Research and data

Children and extreme heat: How climate change is affecting children’s health

Be mindful of how extreme heat affects children's health in warmer months

Climate change is sending children to the emergency room.

In recent years, the number of emergency department (ED) visits among children with heat-related illnesses are increasing due to higher temperatures. Environmental Health Perspectives published a study led by Dr. Gregory Wellenius and other researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health found that 1 out of 8 ED visits (11.8%) in 47 U.S. children’s hospitals were triggered by exposure to extreme heat. Furthermore, the emergency room visits due to extreme heat were disproportionately high for young people of color and those coming from families that are financially disenfranchised.

Due to climate change, maximum temperatures during the warm seasons are expected to increase with each passing year. Inevitably, the spike in ED visits at children’s hospitals for illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, bacterial enteritis, otitis media, and externa will continue to rise. Heat exposure is one of the numerous ways climate change is already affecting younger populations. However, as mentioned in the article, research on health effects and implications among children due to climate change is not as well documented in comparison to adults.

Not only is it imperative to include youth in climate and health research, it is also essential to ensure they have a voice in creating solutions. Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, and many other brave youth activists, have exemplified the power and innovation that can be evoked when younger generations are provided a platform to amplify their voices. Thunberg has worked to inspire the younger generation to advocate for climate change solutions and demand that policy-makers take action to address climate change.

This study by the Boston University School of Public Health research team gives credence to these calls by young people as it shows that children are already suffering health effects from extreme climate conditions.

Boston University School of Public Health has the largest team of researchers in the world focused on understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change on human health. We are actively seeking corporate partners to work with us to develop innovative solutions to this critical public health challenge. Contact idea hub to learn about ways your organization can partner with us.

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