AAP: Pediatricians Must Recognize Climate Change

Policy statement urges pediatricians to act on looming threats to children's health

MONDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Because global climate change is likely to adversely affect children's health, pediatricians should incorporate that knowledge into their professional practices through patient education, personal example and political advocacy, according to a policy statement presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference this week and published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Michael W. Shannon, M.D., chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Environmental Health, and colleagues state that the direct effects of global climate change on children's health may include injuries and deaths from extreme weather events and natural disasters, increases in climate-sensitive infectious diseases and heat-related illnesses, and increases in air pollution-related illnesses.

The authors state that the indirect effects of global climate change on children's health could include scarcities of food and water associated with drought and flooding and forced migrations from coastal areas caused by rising sea levels.

"Any solutions that address climate change must be developed within the context of overall sustainability (the use of resources by the current generation to meet current needs while ensuring that future generations will be able to meet their needs)," the authors conclude. "Pediatric health care professionals can be leaders in a move away from a traditional focus on disease prevention to a broad, integrated focus on sustainability as synonymous with health."

More Information

Physician's Briefing