Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement that links climate change with the health of children, urging pediatricians and politicians to work together to solve this crisis and protect children from climate-related threats including natural disasters, heat stress, lower air quality, increased infections, and threats to food and water supplies.
“Every child need a safe and healthy environment and climate change is a rising public health threat to all children in this country and around the world,” said AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP. “Pediatricians have a unique and powerful voice in this conversation due to their knowledge of child health and disease and their role in ensuring the health of current and future children.”
The policy statement, “Global Climate Change and Children’s Health,” updates a 2007 policy, and is being published in the November 2015 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 26). In the 2015 policy statement, the AAP states that:
- 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.
“Children are uniquely at risk to the direct impacts of climate changes like climate-related disaster—including floods and storms—where they are exposed to increased risk of injury, death, loss of or separation from caregivers and mental health consequences,” explained Samantha Ahdoot, MD, lead author of the policy statement. “They are also more vulnerable to the secondary impacts of global warming, like disease. For example, Lyme disease affects approximately 300,000 Americans each year, with boys, ages 5 to 9, at greatest risk. Climate warming has been linked to northern expansion of Lyme disease in North America, putting more American children at risk of this disease.”