Doctors say climate change is posing health risks for children around the world

Climate change is negatively affecting the health of children around the world, according to a new report calling on health professionals to communicate those risks.

Published in the Lancet medical journal, the report released Wednesday says coming generations will face health problems related to climate change that range from infectious diseases and worsening air pollution to rising temperatures and malnutrition. Health impact should be part of the discussion on climate change, they said.

“Across the world, children are among the worst affected by climate change,” said the annual report on climate change which incorporates the findings of 35 academic institutions and United Nations agencies from every continent.

“A child born today will experience a world that is more than four degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average, with climate change impacting human health from infancy and adolescence to adulthood and old age,” the report's authors said.

The report outlined two pathways—one that continues with business as usual and one that recognizes the effects of climate change and responds by lowering carbon emissions and halting increases in global temperatures.

The report called for “bold new approaches” to policy making, research and business to change course on climate change.

“An unprecedented challenge demands an unprecedented response, and it will take the work of the 7.5 billion people currently alive to ensure that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate,” the authors said.

While there has been increased public attention to climate change over the past year, governments have not responded on the scale needed, the report said. Health professionals have a role to play in educating people.

Health professionals must communicate the health risks of climate change and help drive a response to improve human health and wellbeing, the authors said.

The report cited modest progress in making health worries central to public and political discussions about climate change, but said the challenge remains to push for action at the speed and magnitude required to protect the health of the planet and people.