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AAP Links Global Warming to the Health of Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement linking climate change with the health of children around the world and urging pediatricians and politicians to work together to solve this crisis and protect children from climate-related threats.

Some of the highlights from the 2015 AAP policy statement include:

  • There is wide consensus among scientific organizations and climatologists that the broad effects known commonly as “climate change” are the result of contemporary human activities.
  • According to the World Health Organization, more than 88 percent of the existing burden of disease attributable to climate change occurs in children younger than 5 years old.
  • Climate change poses a threat to human health and safety, but children are uniquely vulnerable.
  • Failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children.Infants less than one year of age are uniquely vulnerable to heat-related mortality, with one study projecting an increase in infant heat-related deaths by 5.5 percent in females and 7.8 percent in males by the end of the 21st Century.
  • Climate influences a number of infectious diseases that affect children across the world, including malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Chikungunya, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, diarrheal illness, Amebic Meningoencephalitis and Coccidioidomycosis.
  • The number of deaths in American high school and college football players from heat stroke has doubled from 15 to 29 from 2000-2010.
  • There is an emerging concern that increased atmospheric CO2 impacts grain quality, lowering the protein content of the edible portions of wheat, rice and barley.
  • High rates of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms have been found in children following climate-related disasters, including hurricanes and floods.
  • Children in the world’s poorest countries, where the disease burden is already disproportionately high, are most affected by climate change.
  • In 2030, climate change is projected to cause an additional 48,000 deaths attributable to diarrheal disease in children younger than 15 years old, primarily in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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