Increased global heating around the globe because of climate change is drastically affecting foetuses, babies and infants, several studies have revealed.
According to researchers from six different studies, the climate crisis is causing a higher risk of premature birth, weight gain in babies and hospitalisation of young children.
The studies have been released in the Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology journal, with two professors from the Boston University School of Public Health arguing evidence shows the way in which extreme heat, hurricanes and wildfire smoke can lead to a higher risk of pre-term birth.
What the studies found
One of the studies concluded pre-term births were 16 per cent more likely to happen in areas with heatwaves, after analysing one million Australian pregnant women between 2004 and 2015 in New South Wales.
Another study which looked into how ambient heat and spontaneous pre-term birth were connected between 2007 and 2011 in Harris Country, Texas, found mothers’ risk of premature birth after a day of heatwave temperatures exposure was 15 per cent.
A third piece of research revealed 200,000 births in Israel showed links between high temperatures and weight gain during the first year of life. Of the 20 per cent exposed to night-time temperature, five per cent had a higher risk of rapid weight gain.
Researchers have also found that a condition associated with air pollution has increased in prevalence by 32 per cent. The abdominal wall defect, known as foetal gastroschisis, grew in frequency as the intensity of wildfires increased over the past 20 years in western US.
What scientists say
Writing in the special edition of the journal, the scientists said: “The evidence is clear: climate hazards, particularly heat and air pollution, do adversely impact a wide range of reproductive, perinatal and paediatric health outcomes.
“The expected pace of continued climate change and resulting impacts on our physical and mental health and wellbeing calls for decisive and immediate action on adaptation.”
The professors also said evidence shows women from marginalised populations are at a much higher risk of being exposed to climate hazards when pregnant, and were less resilient to their effect because of systematic and structural oppression, according to PA news agency.
They added: “Our climate has already changed profoundly due to human activity and these changes are broadly harmful to our health, with some communities and individuals affected much more than others. Reproductive justice is ‘…the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities’.
“Failure to urgently address the reproductive, perinatal and paediatric health impacts of climate change will perpetuate and worsen reproductive injustices, wherein the most marginalised populations will be deprived of their ability to procreate and safely parent their children.”