The Climate Crisis’ Detrimental Impact on Children’s Health: Risks, Challenges, and Calls for Action
Summary of The Guardian article by Andrew Gregory Health editor, Oct. 21, 2023
Climate crisis poses existential risk to children:
- The climate crisis poses an existential risk to the health and wellbeing of all children, according to Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
- Air pollution, extreme weather, and high energy costs are already having a detrimental effect on children’s physical and mental health.
Impact on health and wellbeing:
- Rising temperatures are causing adverse outcomes such as premature birth, hospitalization, and weight gain in babies and children.
- Climate change is also linked to lung growth impairment, asthma, blood pressure issues, cognitive abilities, and mental health problems.
- “Climate change is no longer tomorrow’s problem, it’s today’s,” Kingdon said. “Healthcare professionals across the UK are already seeing its impact first-hand.”
- “Children exhibit high levels of concern over climate change and the mental health consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, phobias, sleep disorders, attachment disorders and substance abuse, can lead to problems with learning, behaviour, and academic performance.”
Health inequalities and vulnerable children:
- Children from low-income households face greater risks due to living in deprived areas with extreme weather events and poor air quality.
- Increased damp and cold properties increase health risks, while the government’s rollback on net-zero policies further exacerbates the burden on vulnerable children.
Calls for action and support:
- The RCPCH urges the government to appoint a cabinet minister for children and prioritize child health in climate crisis policymaking.
- Paediatricians are provided with new resources to support children affected by the climate crisis, including template letters for housing improvements.