OBJECTIVE: Circumstances surrounding the New Madrid earthquake
prediction on Dec. 3, 1990, offered a unique opportunity to study the
effects of a disaster warning stage on children and adolescents. METHOD: An
initial structured interview was administered to 553 third- and 10th-grade
students before December 3, with follow-up interviews conducted 6-8 weeks
later. RESULTS: This study documents the existence of a mild but prevalent
PTSD-like reaction that arose from exposure to a prediction of disaster.
CONCLUSIONS: Further study of anticipatory stress reactions is needed to
provide insights into the development of methods for providing support to
children during disaster warnings.