NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Nearly 5,000 people, not first-responders, have sought treatment for health and mental health problems related to the 2001 attacks in New York, officials say.
The non-responders and their children, ages 4 -9, have received comprehensive medical and mental health treatment at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.'s World Trade Center Environmental Health Center following their exposure on Sept. 11, 2001.
Dr. Joan Reibman, the medical director of the WTC health center, says many adults and children who lived, worked and attended school in Lower Manhattan still develop symptoms, the center has seen an increase of more than 2,000 patients compared to 2008.
"Lots of people had symptoms but didn't make the connection or they had mild symptoms for a long time that they ignored until they became worse," Reibman says in a statement.
Fifty-four percent suffer from upper respiratory distress, 70 percent have lower respiratory conditions, 44 percent have gastrointestinal problems and 46 percent have neurological disorders and headaches, Reibman says. In addition, 51 percent have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
"There are adults and children that even nine years later may now be experiencing persistent and worsening cough, asthma, anxiety or other problems that may stem from Sept. 11," Alan D. Aviles, HHC president says. "We encourage people who think they or their children may be sick from Sept. 11 events to reach out to us for help."