Child health: The care and treatment of children. Child health is the purview of pediatrics, which became a medical specialty in the mid-nineteenth century. Before that time the care and treatment of childhood diseases were included within such areas as general medicine, obstetrics, and midwifery. Children, especially those under the age of five are particularly vulnerable to disaster. They are more likely to be injured, lost, unable to access help or health care, or exposed to greater danger through separation from their families or caregivers. In most disasters, between a third and a half of the dead are children. It is currently estimated that around 250 million people are affected, each year, by disasters, and this number is likely to increase to 350 million over the next decade.
Half this number is thought to be children. The exact health effects from a disaster depend on the type of disaster, for example earthquakes can lead to critical multiple injuries, flooding can lead to outbreaks of diarrhoea. However disasters often exacerbate the most common causes of childhood mortality worldwide. These include acute respiratory illness, diarrhoea, malaria and measles, malnutrition and neonatal causes. Disasters also affect development and delay the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The countries least likely to achieve the MDG targets are the same as those experiencing or recovering from disasters and acute or chronic humanitarian crises. Whilst children are more vulnerable to the effect of disaster, this need not be the case. Good disaster risk reduction for health can help reduce the effects of a disaster on the health of children.