AAP Policy Statement: what to do for children in nuclear emergencies

  • Paulson JA
  • Pediatrics
  • 26 Nov 2018

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued an updated policy statement for managing the pediatric population before, during, and after an ionizing radiation event (e.g., power plant failure or explosive device).
  • Because of their smaller body size and developmental stage, children are at enhanced risk.
  • Technical report addresses different radiation-related emergencies and exposures.

Why this matters

  • Since the 1950s, the world has seen 4 major nuclear plant accidents, including Three Mile Island (1979) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011).
  • Other threats relate to “dirty bombs” and nuclear threats.

Key recommendations

  • Important information is available on the National Pediatric Readiness Project  site and from the AAP. 
  • Mental health effects can be most clinically important outcomes; clinicians should ensure appropriate follow-up care in exposed children and their families and caregivers.
  • Clinicians should learn from local health departments where to direct families for decontamination, exposure assessment.
  • Clinicians should download information about appropriate use of potassium iodide (e.g.,  from the FDA ).
  • Breastfeeding mothers need special information, including considering temporary cessation of breastfeeding.
  • Centers serving the pediatric population need to ensure preparedness for managing exposed children and accompanying adults.
  • Emergency, ICU, inpatient providers should download and make available the CDC’s Internal Contamination Clinical Reference Application . 
  • More information on Radiation Emergency Medical Management here.

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