Maternal and newborn health risks of climate change: A call for awareness and global action

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2021 Apr;100(4):566-570. doi: 10.1111/aogs.14124. Epub 2021 Mar 4.


Climate change represents one of the largest global health threats of the 21st century with immediate and long-term consequences for the most vulnerable populations, especially in the poorest countries with the least capacity to adapt to climate change. Pregnant women and newborns are increasingly being recognized as vulnerable populations in the context of climate change. The effects can be direct or indirect through heat stress, extreme weather events and air pollution, potentially impacting both the immediate and long-term health of pregnant women and newborns through a broad range of mechanisms. In 2008, the World Health Organization passed a resolution during the 61st World Health Assembly, recognizing the need for research to identify strategies and health-system strengthening to mitigate the effects of climate change on health. Climate adaptation plans need to consider vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and neonates and a broad multisectoral approach to improve overall resilience of societies.

Keywords: air pollution; climate change; extreme heat; heat wave; maternal health; neonatal health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Climate Change*
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Infant Health*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Health*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vulnerable Populations