The impact of climate change on child health

Ambul Pediatr. 2003 Jan-Feb;3(1):44-52. doi: 10.1367/1539-4409(2003)003<0044:tiocco>;2.


Human activity has contributed to climate change. The relationship between climate and child health has not been well investigated. This review discusses the role of climate change on child health and suggests 3 ways in which this relationship may manifest. First, environmental changes associated with anthropogenic greenhouse gases can lead to respiratory diseases, sunburn, melanoma, and immunosuppression. Second, climate change may directly cause heat stroke, drowning, gastrointestinal diseases, and psychosocial maldevelopment. Third, ecologic alterations triggered by climate change can increase rates of malnutrition, allergies and exposure to mycotoxins, vector-borne diseases (malaria, dengue, encephalitides, Lyme disease), and emerging infectious diseases. Further climate change is likely, given global industrial and political realities. Proactive and preventive physician action, research focused on the differential effects of climate change on subpopulations including children, and policy advocacy on the individual and federal levels could contain climate change and inform appropriate prevention and response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Climate*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans