According to the UK’s leading pediatrician, children are facing significant dangers due to the climate crisis.
The health and wellbeing of all children are at serious risk due to the climate crisis, according to Britain’s top pediatrician. Urgent action must be taken to address this issue.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), made a significant statement, expressing concern that all young people are facing serious danger due to the physical and psychological consequences of the climate crisis. She also noted that healthcare workers are already witnessing its effects directly.
According to her, millions of children are being negatively impacted by air pollution, extreme weather, and rising energy costs. However, as a nation, we are ignoring the severity of the climate crisis.
Kingdon criticized Rishi Sunak for undoing net zero policies and expressed concern that the most marginalized children in the country would suffer the most from this decision.
Numerous studies have determined that the rising temperatures caused by the climate crisis are having a harmful impact on unborn babies, infants, and children.
Researchers have found that the current climate crisis is leading to various negative consequences, including a higher chance of preterm birth and hospitalization of young children, as well as weight gain in infants. Studies have also revealed that pollution can hinder lung development in children, trigger asthma, and impact blood pressure, cognitive functioning, and mental well-being.
“The issue of climate change is no longer a concern for the future, it is a pressing matter of the present,” stated Kingdon. “In the UK, healthcare professionals are already witnessing its effects firsthand.”
According to the speaker, air pollution is the primary threat to public health in the UK. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects as they breathe at a faster rate and therefore inhale a higher concentration of toxins compared to adults. This can result in childhood asthma and long-term health complications.
According to Kingdon, the impact of the climate crisis on children goes beyond physical health issues. He states that there are significant and potentially long-lasting mental health consequences for children caused by climate change.
“Climate change is a major concern for children, and it can have negative impacts on their mental health. This includes conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, phobias, sleep disorders, attachment disorders, and substance abuse. These issues can also affect their learning, behavior, and academic performance.”
Kingdon stated that due to significant disparities in healthcare in the UK, certain children were being disproportionately affected. He also expressed concern that climate change posed a serious threat to the overall health and well-being of all children, but the effects of climate change were not distributed evenly among them.
According to her, households with lower income had limited options for their residential location, and were more prone to residing in disadvantaged regions. As a result, they were more vulnerable to severe weather conditions and lower air quality.
The ongoing climate emergency is causing an increase in damp and chilly properties in the UK due to higher levels of winter precipitation. This can be especially problematic for low-income families who may struggle to afford proper heating, leaving them vulnerable to cold and mold.
Kingdon stated that all children are in serious danger due to the impact of climate change, with those in lower-income families being at the highest risk. These children are more likely to experience health issues such as increased mortality from extreme weather events, worsened respiratory conditions from pollution, and higher rates of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
It is completely unfair for these at-risk children to bear the heaviest consequences of climate change, especially when their government is reversing its commitment to achieving net zero emissions.
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health is advocating for Sunak to designate a cabinet member specifically for children and to give top priority to child health when making policy decisions regarding the climate crisis.
“We must not continue in this manner as a nation, ignoring the issue,” stated Kingdon. “There is no ideal time from an economic standpoint to address climate change, and the consequences of not achieving net zero are much higher. We must take action immediately, keeping our children’s future in consideration.”
As a company, we urge political leaders to address poverty and health disparities, while also highlighting the disproportionate effects of climate change.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) is providing thousands of pediatricians in the UK with additional tools to assist children impacted by the climate emergency. These resources include pre-written letters of support for families who require better housing conditions due to health concerns.
Kingdon stated that paediatricians are committed to enhancing equity in child health. The toolkit will aid in assisting families, but it is a battle that cannot be won without government intervention.