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What will be the impact of rising temperatures on child health?

08 July 2022

Rising temperatures
Microbial Risk Assessment Of Land Use On Drinking Water Supplies
Microbial Risk Assessment Of Land Use On Drinking Water Supplies

A team of researchers investigating the impact of rising temperatures on child health has received one of 53 grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. The funding is part of a $78.92 million allocation for new and innovative research into some of New Zealand’s most pressing health concerns.

The project – ‘Climate change, heat exposure and child health’ – will be led by the University of Auckland’s Dr Hakkan Lai. Health and environment senior scientist at ESR, Dr Annette Bolton, is part of the research team.

The team will be looking at the impacts of temperature increases on child health outcomes, such as the numbers of visits to A&E, as well as factors that might increase heat exposure, and the potential burden of disease caused by climate change temperature increase scenarios.

It's already well known that exposure to hot temperatures, even in cooler climates, can lead to significant adverse health outcomes. An estimated 37% of recent heat-related deaths globally have been attributed to human-induced climate change.

The effects of climate change in New Zealand haven’t been studied in detail, but based on overseas evidence the number of heat-related deaths and illness in New Zealand children is likely to be substantial and inequitably distributed. One of the project outcomes will be to suggest policy measures to reduce the health impacts of rising temperatures on vulnerable sub-populations.