Global Climate Change and Child Health: A review of pathways, impacts and measures to improve the evidence base*

This paper reviews the published evidence of pathways and impacts of
global climate change on child health. The review was occasioned by
the recognition that most of the work to date on climate change and
health lacks clear focus on the children's dimension, while the climate
change and children literature tends to be brief or imprecise on the
complex health aspects.
Studies were identified by searching the PubMed database for articles
published before April 2009. Publications by agencies (e.g., UNICEF,
WHO, IPPC) were also included based upon review. A list of
references was developed that provide evidence to the linkages
between climate change and health outcomes, and on specific health
outcomes for children. The analysis explores the hypothesis of
disproportionate vulnerability of children’s health to environmental
factors, specifically those most closely related to climate change.
Based upon scientific and policy research conducted to date there is
found to be substantial evidence of disproportionate vulnerability of
children in response to climate change. The diseases likely to be
potentiated by climate change are already the primary causes of child
morbidity and mortality, including vector-borne diseases, water-borne
diseases and air-borne diseases. For this reason further research,
assessment and monitoring of child health in respect to climate change
is critical. Proposals are made for governments to integrate
environmental health indicators into data collection in order to
accurately assess the state of child health in relation to other age
groups and its sensitivity to climate change.

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