Canadian Paediatric Society says children's health vulnerable to climate change

Children play in a water fountain in Antwerp, Belgium, Thursday, July 25, 2019. The Canadian Paediatric Society says the impact of climate change on children's health is likely to increase and that health-care providers should press all levels of government for measures that mitigate and prevent climate change. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Virginia Mayo

OTTAWA - 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 climate change.

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.

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.

"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."

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