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Pediatricians Say Children Are ‘Uniquely’ Threatened by Climate Change

“Failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children.”

Children in Dhaka, Bangladesh, via Flickr user Development Planning Unit University College London

A leading child health association says climate change is particularly terrible for children.

In a policy statement released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said children are more susceptible to the global changes, which include elevated pollen levels as well as more intense heat waves and storms. The AAP represents 64,000 of the country’s pediatricians.

“Because of their growing minds and bodies, children are uniquely vulnerable to changes in their environment,” wrote Dr. Samantha Ahdoot, the statement’s lead author and a professor of pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

The statement, which was accompanied by a technical report, acknowledges the “wide consensus” in the scientific community on the human influence on the climate. It draws links between child health and the following factors.

  • Heat-related illnesses, like heat stroke. These put young infants and athletes at risk.
  • Air quality. A number of climate change effects are associated with poorer air quality, such as a higher concentration of smog, toxic smoke produced by more wildfires, and elevated pollen levels.
  • Infectious diseases, particularly Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and childhood diarrhea.
  • Extreme weather events, which impact children’s mental and physical health.
  • Food security. Agricultural industries and food prices are deeply affected by extreme heat, droughts, flood, and rising sea levels

The children who will bear the brunt of these effects will be among the world’s poorest, the pediatricians write.

Standing on the beach in the Maldives, via Flickr user Nattu

The report also outlines a broad plan to reduce humans’ effect on the atmosphere. It includes working to promote medical education opportunities and forming wide coalitions across disciplines to address climate change at local and national levels.

“Given this knowledge, failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children,” the statement concludes.

(Via The Guardian)

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