Chemical-Biological Terrorism and Its Impact on Children

Chemical and biological events (including infectious disease outbreaks) may affect children disproportionately, and the threat of a chemical or biological attack remains in the United States and worldwide. Although federal programs and funding support a broad range of federal initiatives for public health preparedness and response, funding at the state and local levels has been flat or is decreasing, potentially leaving communities vulnerable. Consequently, pediatricians need to prepare and be ready to care for children in their communities before, during, and after a chemical or biological event, including during long-term recovery. Some medical countermeasures for particular chemical and biological agents have not been adequately studied or approved for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides resources and education on disaster preparedness and response, including information on the pediatrician’s role in disasters, pediatric medical countermeasures, and mental health after an event as well as individual and family preparedness. This policy statement addresses the steps that clinicians and policy makers can take to protect children and mitigate the effects of a chemical or biological attack.

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