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Climate crisis| Climate crisis

Climate crisis| Climate crisis

A woman and baby escape the burning village of Platanos

Six new studies have shown that the climate crisis is affecting the health of babies, foetuses and infants around the world.

Scientists discovered that heat is linked to rapid weight gain in babies, which increases the chance of obesity later in life. Premature births and higher temperatures are linked to poor health.

Other studies showed that exposure to smoke from wildfires doubled a person’s risk of severe birth defects. However, reduced fertility was linked with air pollution from fossil fuel combustion, even at low levels. The studies were published in a Special issue of Paediatric and Perinatal EpidemiologyThe, spanned the globe and included Australia, Denmark, Israel, and the United States.

Professor Gregory Wellenius and Amelia Wesselink edited the issue at the Boston University School of Public Health in the US. They saw the impact of climate hazards on health from the beginning, right from preconception through early childhood to adolescence.

This is a problem that affects everyone, everywhere. With climate change, these extreme events will become more common and more severe. [and this research shows]We see them as important today, not in a future.

The link between Rapid weight gain and heat in the first year of your lifeScientists in Israel discovered the truth. Scientists in Israel examined 200,000 births and discovered that babies exposed to night-time temperatures above 20°C had a 5% higher chance of fast weight gain.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said that the work has important implications for climate change and the obesity epidemic. This is because infancy is crucial in determining adult weight, and because obese people may be more vulnerable to extreme heat. Wellenius said it was an interesting hypothesis and worth further investigation.

18% of children worldwide are overweight or obese. The rapid infant weight gain may be due to the fact that less fat is burned in order to maintain body temperature when the temperature outside is higher.

California researchers found that mothers were exposed to wildfires for a month before conception. Doubled the chance of a birth defectSo called gastroschisisThe place where baby’s intestines and other organs protrude through a small opening in the skin.

Two million births were examined by the scientists. 40% of these were to mothers who lived within 15 miles of wildfires and the resulting pollution. This was already known to be dangerous for pregnant women and their foetuses. The risk of a birth defect was 28% higher in mothers who lived near wildfires during the first trimester.

A woman and baby escape the burning village of Platanos
During the 2007 summer wildfires of Greece, a mother and her child escape the Platanos burning village.Photograph by Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Foetal gastroschisis occurs in very few cases. There are approximately 2,000 cases per year in the US. However, cases are increasing worldwide. According to Bo Young Park, a California State University professor, human exposure to wildfires will increase over the next decade. It is therefore crucial to have a good understanding of the adverse health effects associated with wildfires.

Two new studies looked at the link between high temperatures, premature births, and their effects. The First assessment of almost one million pregnanciesFrom 2005 to 2014, New South Wales, Australia saw 3% of mothers deliver their babies within 37 weeks.

Researchers discovered that the risk of premature birth was 16% higher for those living in the hottest places in the state. Similar results were found in previous research. Brisbane, a warmer sub-tropical locationHowever, this was the first time that it was done in a more temperate part of Australia.

The risk of [premature]With the expected rise in global temperatures and heatwaves, birth rates are likely to rise. This is a potential serious concern, according to the University of Sydney researchers led by Edward Jegasothy.

The Second studyThe Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, has analysed 200,000 births between 2007 and 2011. This included Texas’s hottest summer ever recorded in 2011.

25% of mothers were exposed to heat during pregnancy, days when the temperature was above 1% of historical summer temperatures. Scientists found that premature births were 15% more likely to occur the day after very hot days. The risk of premature birth was higher for babies born before 28 weeks. It tripled for babies born before that time and was also higher in the 20% most economically disadvantaged mothers.

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The University of California, Los Angeles researchers led by Lara Cushing said that pregnant women should be notified about heatwaves. This is because they have found stronger associations between preterm births and earlier gestation. Although we don’t know the exact mechanism behind premature births, it could be due to the release of hormones that induce labour.

This new research adds weight a 2020 review of the 68 studies that covered 34m births. It found that heat and air pollution were linked to higher rates of stillbirth, low birth weight, and premature birth. Bruce Bekkar (retired obstetrician) was the author of the review. He said: We are already seeing generations weakening since birth.

Wellenius stated that even moderate heat levels can cause harm to the developing foetus, pregnant complications, children, and adolescents. Although the risk to an individual is small, the number of people who are exposed is significant.

Also, hotter temperatures Increased admissions of young children into emergency departmentsAnother study was done in New York City. The scientists examined 2.5m admissions over the course of eight years and found a 7.4% increase in admissions among under-fives. The researchers found that children lose more fluids to their bodies than adults, and their ability regulate their temperature is impaired.

The climate crisis is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. But, air pollution can also be caused by this burning. A new study in Denmark has assessed the impact of dirty and polluted air on 10,000 couples trying for natural conception. It was found that a few units of particle pollution during a menstrual period can lead to an increase in the risk of having a baby. A decrease in conception of around 8%.

A study done in China recently found that air pollution was a significant factor in infertility. However, the average level of pollution was five times greater than the Danish study. Air pollution [in Denmark]Wesselink stated that the level of contamination was very low and nearly at the levels considered safe by EU. The current standards may not be sufficient to protect against adverse effects on reproductive health.

Wellenius stated that one of the most important aspects of the studies was that it showed that people with low incomes and people of color often suffer the most from air pollution. He stated that this is an issue of health equity and justice.

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