Remotely sensed measures of Hurricane Michael damage and adverse perinatal outcomes and access to prenatal care services in the Florida panhandle

Environ Health. 2022 Nov 29;21(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s12940-022-00924-1.


BACKGROUND: Studies of effects of hurricanes on perinatal outcomes often rely on approximate measures of exposure. This study aims to use observed damage from aerial imagery to refine residential building damage estimates, evaluate the population changes post landfall, and assess the associations between the extent of residential building damage and adverse perinatal outcomes and access to prenatal care (PNC) services. METHODS: Vital statistics data from the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics were used to align maternal geocoded address data to high-resolution imagery (0.5-foot resolution, true color with red, blue, and green bands) aerial photographs. Machine learning (support vector machines) classified residential roof damage across the study area. Perinatal outcomes were compared with the presence or absence of damage to the mother’s home. Log-binomial regression models were used to compare the populations living in and outside of high-risk/damage areas, to assess the population changes after Hurricane Michael, and to estimate the associations between damage after Hurricane Michael and adverse perinatal outcomes/access to PNC services. A semi-parametric linear model was used to model time of first PNC visit and increase in damage.

RESULTS: We included 8,965 women in analysis. Women with lower education and/or of Black or other non-White race/ethnicity were more likely to live in areas that would see high damage than other groups. Moreover, there was a greater proportion of births delivered by women living in the high-risk/damage area (> 25% damaged parcels after Michael) in the year before Michael than the year after Michael. Lastly, living in the area with relatively high damage increased the risk of having intermediate or inadequate PNC (adjusted Risk Ratio = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.43), but not other adverse perinatal outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Aerially observed damage data enable us to evaluate the impact of natural disasters on perinatal outcomes and access to PNC services based on residential building damage immediately surrounding a household. The association between the extent of damage and adverse perinatal outcomes should be further investigated in future studies.

PMID:36447282 | DOI:10.1186/s12940-022-00924-1

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