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Hurricane, Disaster, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Teratology information



  1. Quinn, Dorothy MS, RN, CGC
  2. Lavigne, Sharon Voyer MS
  3. Chambers, Christina PhD, MPH
  4. Wolfe, Lori MS, CGC
  5. Chipman, Hope MS
  6. Cragan, Janet D. MD, MPH
  7. Rasmussen, Sonja A. MD, MS


Natural disasters are devastating for anyone affected, but pregnant and breastfeeding women often have specific concerns about the effects of certain exposures (such as infections, chemicals, medications, and stress) on their fetus or breastfed child. For this reason, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered to provide information for women and healthcare professionals about the effects of exposures on pregnancy and breastfeeding after the hurricanes of 2005. This service expanded on OTIS's existing telephone counseling and fact sheets. Through this project, fact sheets were created to address specific potential concerns regarding exposures after the hurricanes. The OTIS national toll-free telephone number also was modified to accommodate questions regarding hurricane-related exposures, and several strategies were used to publicize this number as a resource for obtaining hurricane-related exposure information related to pregnancy and breastfeeding. This article describes OTIS's response after the 2005 hurricanes, the challenges encountered in implementing the response, and lessons learned that might be useful to improve the response to the unique needs of this special population after any disaster or public health emergency.