A new report reveals that children may be especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming. The report recommends that steps should be taken to safeguard their health as temperatures rise.

The American Academy of Pediatricians has called on the nation’s government and physicians to recognize the impact global warming has on children’s health and develop strategies to protect children from potential harm.

Beyond increasing the risk of heat-related conditions like heat stroke and dehydration, researchers say global warming exacerbates common childhood diseases such as asthma and allergies. Children are also at risk of losing a parent or caregiver due to extreme weather. According to the group’s report, the following are examples of the effects global warming could have on children’s health:

• Increased susceptibility to injury or death, posttraumatic stress, loss of caregiver, disrupted education and displacement as a result of weather events such as floods, hurricanes, and droughts.

• Damage to lung function and growth due to increased air pollution.

• Increased waterborne and food-borne illnesses, including infectious diarrhea, from increased temperatures and disrupted food supplies.

• Increase in infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, such as West Nile virus, malaria, and Lyme disease.

• Increased exposure and vulnerability to heat-related conditions such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Researchers say children are often most vulnerable to adverse health effects from environmental hazards. The group encourages pediatricians to be role models for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming by making changes such as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, reducing thermostat settings in the winter and increasing them in summer, and using cars less.

Their report was presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in San Francisco. For more information on this subject you can go to www.aap.org.

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