Climate and Child Health in Rural Areas of Low and Middle Income Countries: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence (pp. 431-445)
Authors: Angela Baschieri and Sari Kovats
Abstract: Children are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change because they currently experience a high health burden from climate-sensitive diseases. Rural populations in low and middle income countries are also vulnerable to climate change impacts because of a high dependency on local environmental resources. We investigated the evidence base for the direct impacts of current climate factors on child health using a systematic review of studies quantifying an association between temperature and/or rainfall and child health outcomes. We found 35 papers that met our criteria, which were classified as spatial or temporal analyses. There is good evidence that climate factors (temperature and rainfall) affect the spatial and temporal distribution of malaria. There is also good evidence that temperature and rainfall are an important determinant of diarrhoeal disease morbidity, reflecting both acute mechanisms (e.g. short term water contamination) and long term effects (chronic water scarcity). The review highlighted that little is known about the specific mechanisms that link climate patterns with disease or mortality. Few analyses were of high quality, which would include adjustment for spatial or temporal confounders. Many studies did not distinguish between seasonal and other climate effects making interpretation difficult. There is a need for more research to describe the mechanisms by which climate variability affects child health. To identify those communities most at risk from future climate change we need both to improve the understanding of the epidemiology of disease and identify interventions to lower the impact of the changing climate .