Climate Change May Hit Kids Harder


Photo credit: sharynmorrow

If climate change is going to disproportionately harm the health of our kids—as it more than likely will—politicians need to launch "aggressive policies" to mitigate the oncoming dangers, according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics last month.

As temperatures begin to rise, children will be particularly vulnerable in several ways, says the report. Waterborne infections that hit children especially hard, including diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, will thrive with more rain, which is anticipated as the climate warms.

The malaria zone is expanding because mosquitoes are able to move to higher ground. Seventy-five percent of malaria deaths occur in children younger than 5. The report also mentions air pollution, which although not a result of global warming, still poses significant problems because it does considerable damage to kids' developing lungs, resulting in asthma and other respiratory ailments.

And, as regions become uninhabitable and the number of climate refugees skyrocket, fewer children may survive into adulthood. "Children fare very poorly in these major population shifts," Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and president of the Children's Health Fund, told USA Today. "They're more fragile medically and nutritionally," says Redlener, who wasn't involved with the report. "They're less resilient, less likely to survive."

"We already have change, and certain bad things are going to happen no matter what we do," said the report's lead author, Katherine Shea, a pediatrician and adjunct public health professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. "But we can prevent things from getting even worse. We don't have the luxury of waiting."

"This is not a political issue, it's a public health issue," Shea adds. "If we know the health of children and future children is threatened, we have an obligation to act." ::USA Today