Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Children could bear the brunt of climate change as the crisis can adversely affect children’s health before they are even born…

The grim effects that climate change will have on paediatric health outcomes was the focus of an article published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation by Susan E. Pacheco, MD, an expert at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Pacheco, an associate professor of paediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, shines a light on the startling effects that the climate crisis has on children’s health before they are even born.

Climate change is linked to increased mortality and morbidity due to heatwaves and fires, increased risk of food- and water-borne illnesses, and malnutrition due to food scarcity.

The psychological trauma and mental health issues linked to these experiences can affect children and their caretakers.

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For example, Pacheco pointed out that after Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria in 2017, many adults experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety and many were not capable of meeting the physical and emotional demands that such a disaster imposed on their children.

Climate change and pregnancy

The negative health effects inflicted by the climate crisis can begin while a child is still in utero.

This is due to maternal stress, poor nutrition, exposure to air pollution, and exposure to extreme weather events brought on by climate change.

Studies of women who experienced major flooding events while pregnant reported an association with outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weights.

Pacheco wrote that pregnant women exposed to climate change experience stress, respiratory disease, poor nutrition, increased infections, heat-associated illnesses, and poverty.

Now is not the time for indifference

We will continue to see an increase in heat-associated conditions in children, such as asthma, Lyme disease, as well as an increase in congenital heart defects,” Pacheco said.

Pacheco wrote that the picture painted by research on climate change is daunting and now is not the time for indifference. In the article’s conclusion, she wrote that everyone in the medical community must reflect on a personal level about what can be done with the knowledge they have on climate change and its negative health effects.

We cannot act as if we are immune to these threats,” she said. “We can jump to action or stand in complacent indifference.”

Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston via

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