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Climate change is harming our mental and physical health

[Article provided by the Pediatric Pandemic Network]

Marginalized communities will be impacted by climate change in serious or fatal ways. According to  Shana Godfred-Cato, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and Pediatric Pandemic Network expert, climate change affects some groups more than others.

“Low-income people may not be able to afford air conditioning or escape climate events. Some communities of color may live in urban heat islands. Indigenous people may have higher rates of chronic medical conditions, and climate change may impact their livelihood and food sources,” Dr. Godfred-Cato says.

The consequences of climate change could also be fatal for patients with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, she adds.

According to Harvard University’s Center for Environment, “Climate change amplifies the marginalization experienced by persons with disabilities negatively affecting health, reducing access to healthcare services, food, water, and accessible infrastructure. People with psychosocial disabilities have triple the rate of mortality in heatwaves.”

The consequences touch everyone, unfortunately. “Children have physiologic differences from adults: for example, they breathe at a faster rate than adults, increasing exposure to air pollution,” Dr. Godfred-Cato explains. More so, she says, “Pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum people who are exposed to extreme heat, flooding, and wildfires have increased rates of pregnancy complications.”

People who work outdoors are at risk as well, she says, since their exposure to air pollution, extreme heat, and disease-carrying pests is greater than for people who remain mostly indoors.

Ultimately, no matter who the patient is, climate change will impact everyone as we all grow older. “As people age, their ability to compensate for high temperatures and air pollution decreases, therefore increasing the risk of complications for older adults,” Dr. Godfred-Cato emphasizes.

Read the full article via MDLinx.

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