Tohoku University Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) conducted a questionnaire survey as the ToMMo Child Health Study from FY2012 to FY2015 in Miyagi Prefecture. The purpose of this study was to address the health needs of children who were at risk of illnesses or a worsening of symptoms following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Specifically, the study was designed to:
1. Assess the health status of children and develop measures to meet their needs;
2. Provide appropriate support to children with health concerns; and
3. Find children whose symptoms and prognosis would improve with cutting-edge medical support services as quickly as possible.
The ToMMo Child Health Study was implemented by a Tohoku Medical Megabank Project, as part of the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project Birth and Three-Generation Cohort Study.
|Area||28 municipalities in Miyagi Prefectures|
|Period||FY2012 - FY2015|
|Number of participants||17,043|
|Participants||Parents or guardians of children and students in the second, fourth, and sixth grades of primary school as well as in the second year of junior high school in the subject areas|
|Requested cooperation||Filling out the questionnaire|
The questionnaire was distributed through public primary and junior high schools in the target area, to 62,895 children and students in the second, fourth, and sixth grades of primary school as well as in the second year of junior high school. The children and students brought home the questionnaire, and 17,043 parents or guardians (number of effective responses) filled out and returned the questionnaire.
Outline of Study Findings
In terms of respiratory and skin symptoms, 1,468 children had symptoms of wheeze, and 3,283 children had symptoms of eczema. Of the children who were not receiving any treatment or diagnosis despite having strong symptoms, 94 children had wheeze, and 116 children had eczema. A Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (meaning the experience of some form of difficulty in daily life) was conducted to study the psychological health of children. It found that 640 children experience some form of difficulty in their daily lives and were deemed to require assistance.
For the period of FY2012 to FY2015, the prevalence of eczema or clinical range on the SDQ was relatively higher for children who experienced the tsunami or a housing change than of children who did not have such experiences. However, the odds ratio for eczema or some form of difficulty in their daily lives tended decrease over time. The aggregate findings from the questionnaire survey were notified to municipalities for the purpose of improving their health administration.
If requested by parents or guardians, and as necessary, public health nurses and psychologists provided mental and physical health counseling, among other supports at ToMMo. Telephone counseling was provided to 1,609 children who may have severe symptoms. 110 face-to-face meetings were also held as requested.