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Responses to Children’s Mental Health Needs Following the Chernobyl Disaster

  • Konstantin Nikolayevich Loganovsky
  • Tatiana Konstantinovna Loganovskaya
Chapter
Part of the Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care book series (IPPC)

Abstract

This chapter is an overview of neuropsychiatric and mental health research and consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe in children and adolescents. These effects derive from both biological effects of radiation exposure and psychosocial effects of trauma and displacement. With respect to radiological factors, several scenarios of radiation exposure related to children and adolescents will be discussed: (1) exposure in utero, (2) exposure in childhood and adolescence, and (3) particular overexposure of the thyroid to radiation and the subsequent incidence of thyroid cancer. Prenatal exposure has had more objective studies than other exposure types, but findings remain controversial. Among some of the children, the existing data testify to subtle signs of intellectual impairment that are reflected, for example, in a larger than the usual gap between verbal and nonverbal IQ indices. We then discuss the psychosocial effects of trauma and the research that shows children from contaminated territories have many signs of mental health problems, including anxiety, psychosomatic disturbances, and autonomic dysfunction (dysautonomia). After consideration of the mental health needs of children and adolescents following the radiation emergency of the Chernobyl catastrophe, we discuss possible strategies for improving the mental healthcare and psychiatric rehabilitation for these individuals.

Keywords

Prenatal irradiation Brain damage Chernobyl catastrophe Ionizing radiation Children Adolescents Mental health 

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konstantin Nikolayevich Loganovsky
    • 1
  • Tatiana Konstantinovna Loganovskaya
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Radiation Psychoneurology, Institute of Clinical RadiologyState Institution “National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine of National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine”KyivUkraine

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