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June 1992

The Psychologic Fallout From Chernobyl

Author Affiliations

From the UCLA Department of Pediatrics.

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(6):761-762. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160180121029

An epidemic of monumental proportions has stricken the children of the Ukraine—a direct aftermath of the nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl on April 25, 1986. As many as 75% of the children of the Kiev area were affected. The result is considerable anxiety, multiple clinic visits, and prolonged hospitalizations (2 to 6 weeks). The general population is outraged, politicians are calling for action, physicians are responding with countless diagnostic tests and therapeutic maneuvers, parents are sick with worry, and, as usual, the children are suffering the most. Despite all of this concern and activity, the epidemic shows no sign of abating and, instead, is getting worse.

What disease is this, where did it come from, what is its cause, and what is its cure? The disease, according to the Ukrainian doctors, is "vegetative dystonia." Its origin is said to be the nuclear power plant accident, which released low levels

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