LONG BEACH, Long Island (WABC) — As children on Long Island enjoy a fall day, a deeper problem may be brewing.

Babies who were in the womb during Superstorm Sandy may have had significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and ADHD, a new study has found.

“Obviously, as a parent, I’m going to be worried,” Juliana Larosa-Derns said.

Queens College psychology professor Yoko Nomura says they didn’t expect the scale of the study.

Nomura led a study called “pregnancy stress” or “SIPS”. She came up with the idea after witnessing low-income families, including pregnant women, seek shelter in a college gym during Superstorm Sandy.

“Some women worry about a member of their family, an older child who cannot eat. They just don’t have money and don’t know how to survive,” Nomura said.

Superstorm Sandy hit 10 years ago, killing 48 New Yorkers and damaging thousands of homes on Long Island. This has led to widespread flooding and power outages, causing extreme stress.

Nomura says that stress during pregnancy affects the child’s mental health development and is a key factor in the high rate of mental disorders.

“If you’re exposed to Superstorm Sandy, you’re 60 times more likely to develop ADHD,” Nomura said.

Participants return to campus to be tested and studied. Every year on the child’s birthday, the mother left him in a room where he was watched through a two-way mirror.

“We see their emotional development, we see their fine and gross motor skills, we see their cognitive development,” Nomura added.

Clinical psychologists also take saliva and hair samples to check hormone levels.

Eight years after Sandy, there’s COVID, which has brought more stress — so what does that mean for those same babies in the womb during Superstorm Sandy?

“We don’t know if it will accelerate the negative trend or if it will be beneficial because they are ready to deal with it. We don’t know yet,” Nomura said.

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