'Climate change makes children vulnerable to infectious diseases'

A study that was conducted to look into the association between climate parameters and infectious diseases in children under 16 years have found that climate variables accounted for 9-18 per cent

'Climate change makes children vulnerable to infectious diseases'
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IANS

A study that was conducted to look into the association between climate parameters and infectious diseases in children under 16 years have found that climate variables accounted for 9-18 per cent of the total infectious disease.

The study was undertaken for the first time over the central Indo-Gangetic Plain region by DST - Mahamana Centre of Excellence in Climate Change Research, Banaras Hindu University.

It explored the association between climate parameters and infectious diseases in a three-year follow-up prospective cohort of 461 children under 16-years-of-age in the city of Varanasi.

The climate change driven by anthropogenic activities may challenge the gains in public health over the past many years, particularly in a country like India that ranks high in the list of climate-vulnerable countries in the world as per the study.

The higher risk associated with children is due to the combination of physiological vulnerability as well as the risk of exposure.


Accounting for extensive socioeconomic household data and child anthropometric measurements, the researchers have established that the climate parameters like temperature, humidity, rainfall, solar radiation, and wind speed were significantly associated with the infectious diseases like gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory diseases, vector-borne diseases, and skin diseases in children in Varanasi.

The study has found that the climatic parameters accounted for 9-18 per cent of the total infectious disease cases, while non-climate parameters account for the rest. Upper respiratory tract infection (mostly cold and flu) and gastrointestinal infections (mainly diarrhea) constitute 78 per cent of the disease burden.

The socio-economic conditions and child anthropometry modified the climate-disease association with high proportion of children found suffering from stunting, wasting, and underweight conditions as per the study.

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