Climate change may affect the health of children, and cause serious illness and injury and even death. Climate change can result in poorer air quality, especially in cities. Ozone levels can rise. Climate change may affect the growth, survival, transmission and distribution of disease-causing organisms. This is a particular problem regarding the ingestion of food and liquid, which may be contaminated. Infectious diarrhea, the second leading cause of death in young children under age 5, is associated with contaminated water.
Climate change can increase sharply the numbers and diversity of insects and arachnids. This can lead to various mosquito-borne diseases and also tick- and louse-borne diseases. Tropical diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya may now be transmitted in the continental United States. Flies are more prevalent and also contribute substantially to disease outbreaks.
Children have a smaller body mass to surface area and therefore are at greater risk of heat- related illnesses, such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion, which can lead to serious illness or death. Extreme temperatures and extreme weather compound the health and safety effects of large areas that are highly contaminated and are substantially cluttered with all types of solid and hazardous waste including building materials. There is also an increase in infectious diseases, mental health problems, and behavioral problems. Children are more vulnerable in severe weather than adults, not only because of their size and inexperience but also because they rely upon the adults to take care of them and provide for them. The children’s lives are totally disrupted by severe weather and they cannot understand what has happened, why it happened, and what to do to make it right.