How Global Warming Impacts Your Child's Health

Climate change and global warming are doing untold damage to health. How do they affect your child? Read on to know more

By Dr Rahul Nagpal

How Global Warming Impacts Your Child's Health

With the rapid growth in population and industrialisation, resource extraction and energy production have gone up. Both these factors have led to an increase in global warming and pollution. The resultant deterioration in health has reached alarming levels. Let us look at the extent to which global warming can impact the health of young children.

Risk of infectious diseases

Global warming affects the health of children, especially through the widespread impact of infectious diseases. Three components are essential for most infectious diseases: an agent (or pathogen), a host (or vector) and transmission environment. Some pathogens are carried by vectors (like mosquitoes) or require intermediate hosts to complete their lifecycle. Appropriate climate and weather conditions are necessary for the survival, reproduction, distribution and transmission of disease pathogens, vectors, and hosts.

Many of the most common infectious diseases, and particularly those transmitted by insects, are highly sensitive to climate variation. Vector-borne communicable diseases, including dengue, malaria and viral fevers are evident widely. Other infectious diseases, such as salmonellosis (typhoid), cholera and giardiasis may show increased outbreaks in summers.

Respiratory diseases caused by climate change

Climate change increases the amount of pollen and allergen produced by plant, mould proliferation and the concentration of outdoor ozone and particulate matter at ground level. The main diseases of concern that affect children are asthma, rhinosinusitis and respiratory tract infections including pneumonias and bronchopneumonia.

Impact on mental health of children post natural disasters

Children are particularly vulnerable to disaster trauma. It manifests in a variety of complex psychological and behavioural manifestations. Age at the exposure to the traumatic event mediates the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are most common. Preschool children can present with features of separation anxiety, stranger anxiety, fears of monsters or animals and avoidance of situations. They may be preoccupied with certain words or symbols that may or may not have connection to the event

Diseases caused by poor drinking water quality

Safe, reliable, affordable and easily accessible water supply is essential for good health. Poor water supply impacts health by causing acute infectious diarrhoea, repeat or chronic diarrhoea episodes, and non diarrhoeal disease, which can arise from chemical species such as arsenic and fluoride. It can also affect health by limiting productivity and the maintenance of personal hygiene.

Effect of UV rays on children

UVA rays cause skin aging and wrinkling, and contribute to a type of cancer called melanoma.

UVB rays are also dangerous, causing sunburns, cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) and effects on the immune system. They also contribute to skin cancer.

Effect of poor air quality on children

Air pollution is one of the main environmental threats for children’s health, making it one of the most important public health issues in recent times. A great many chemical substances are suspended in polluted air and are breathed in daily, constituting a particular risk for children. This is due in part to the immaturity of children’s immune and respiratory systems, but also to the fact that they tend to spend more time outdoors in the afternoon and in the summer, when contamination is higher. Many studies have demonstrated that there is a relation between air pollution and respiratory health of children, especially affecting children with asthma. Air pollution leads to miscarriage, premature birth, congenital heart malformations and low birth weight. It can also lead to development of certain chronic diseases, especially affecting the respiratory system.

Effect of increased carbon monoxide content

Breathing CO can cause headache, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. Exposure to moderate and high levels of CO over long periods of time has also been linked with increased risk of heart disease. People who survive severe CO poisoning may suffer long-term health problems.

Does this article make you wonder how you can stop contributing to global warming? Start by raising an environmentally friendly child. Read the article below to know more.