Edmonton

Children's health vulnerable to climate change, Canadian Paediatric Society says

Edmonton pediatrician and lead author Dr. Irena Buka says because of their developing bodies, children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate change.

Society points to emerging health issues for kids that include heat-sickness and reduced air quality

The Canadian Paediatric Society says clinicians should learn more about the way climate affects kids' physical and mental health. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)

The Canadian Paediatric Society says it expects climate change to increasingly affect children's health and is encouraging health-care providers to press all levels of government for measures that curb it.

The society's new guidance paper points to emerging health issues for kids that include heat-sickness, reduced air quality and contaminated water sources.

It also says natural hazards and extreme weather can raise longer-term mental health effects for kids, especially if families are displaced or lose their homes, if relatives die, or if children's health care and schooling is interrupted.

"Because of their growing and developing bodies, children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate change," lead author Dr. Irena Buka, a pediatrician in Edmonton, said Wednesday in a release.

"Climate change is the greatest global health threat of this century and children are particularly vulnerable to its effects."

The society says clinicians should learn more about the way climate affects kids' physical and mental health, and even monitor local pollen, air quality and UV index levels so they can counsel families on measures including sun protection.

The agency says heat waves, forest fires and floods are expected to be more frequent in the coming years.

It adds that children can be disproportionately affected by climate-related changes because they metabolize more water, air and food per kilogram of body weight than adults.

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