US researchers have said they fear almost half of all those injured by the devastating Haiti quake may be children, urging relief agencies to plan accordingly.
A statistical study by a specialist group at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California showed that those hurt in the January 12 quake will likely "include an extraordinarily high number of children, more than 110 000, nearly half of the estimated total."
The study was conducted by Jeffrey Upperman and Robert Neches PhD, who have developed a software tool to help medical service providers plan their responses in the case of disasters and accidents involving children.
Using existing data, the Pediatric Emergency Decision Support System (PEDSS) uses statistical methods to estimate how many of the victims of a disaster may be children and what care they might need.
"Such needs in Haiti are particularly intense, because fully 35% of the population is under 15, meaning the estimated total number of injuries (250 000) contains far more children than it would in other areas," the researchers said in a statement.
Different needs for children
They stressed that injured children had different medical needs, such as thinner hypodermic needles, the correct doses of children's drugs, and pediatric specialists. The software works with seven age groups, and applying its program to the population of Haiti it predicted that half of the injured, about 44 % or 111 000, could be under the age of 18.
It estimated that about 1 000 children aged between six to eight had suffered crush injuries, and calculated how many doses of specific drugs to treat such injuries would be needed. - (Sapa, January 2010)