The first Monday of October each year is designated at National Child Health Day. The observance aims to raise awareness about how they can protect and develop children's health. This is a very important subject and one that can cover a wide range of sub-topics. To do justice to this special day, I've decided to narrow my focus and look at only one area of concern; how environmental challenges have a huge impact on children's health. As a children's book author and someone who is a lifelong advocate for environmental stewardship, it made sense for me to look at how these two areas intersect and impact one another.
1. More than one in four childhood deaths can be prevented by cleaning up the environment. Every year, environmental risks such as indoor and outdoor pollution, second-hand smoke, and unsafe water and sanitation, takes the lives of 1,7 million children under five years of age. That's 26% of all child deaths.
2. Asthma prevalence in children is increasing worldwide. Worldwide 11-14% of children age five and older currently report asthma symptoms. Many of these symptoms are related to indoor and outdoor air pollution, secondhand smoke, pollens, and indoor mold and dampness.
3. Air pollution is the greatest risk to children's health. Every year, more than 57,000 children under five years old die from respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, which is linked to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
4. Access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene could prevent 361,000 childhood deaths worldwide caused by diarrhea. These preventable deaths could be stopped with access to clean water and improved hygiene practices.
5. Acute childhood poisoning from pesticides can be life-threatening. Chemical pesticides are commonly used to protect crops and to control certain disease vectors such as mosquitoes, to remove vegetation from public places, and to control pests in the home. Unsafe use, storage, and disposal of these pesticides are the main cause of acute poisoning in children.
6. Malaria caused more than 300,000 deaths, worldwide, of children under five years of age in 2015 alone. Malaria, the most important vector-borne disease globally, is transmitted by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes, which prefer clean, standing, or slowly moving freshwater. Better environmental management of these water bodies could help prevent 300,000 deaths of children under five years of age.
7. Lead is one of the most harmful chemicals, especially for young children. Young children are more vulnerable to the toxic effect of lead and can suffer profound and permanent health effects, particularly on the development of the brain and nervous system. Since young children spend most of their time on the ground and frequently put their fingers and other objects into their mouths they have an increased risk of exposure to lead.
8. Unintentional poisonings cause an estimated 23,000 deaths globally in children under five years of age every year. Because of their smaller size and less developed physiology, they often come into contact with poisons such as cleaning products, weed, and insect killers, medicines, petroleum products, solvents, seeds, berries, mushrooms, and venomous snakes and spiders.
9. early exposure to environmental risks contribute to childhood cancers. there's still a lot unknown about the causes of childhood cancers but environmental risks such as solar and ionizing radiation, second-hand tobacco smoke, aflatoxins (agricultural toxins found in crops like peanuts, corn, tree nuts, etc.), and some pesticides can lead to cancer in children or lead to an increased cancer risk later on in life.
10. Climate change increases the risk of disease, especially children in developing countries. Climate change is one of the greatest new threats to children's environmental health. Higher temperatures and higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide favoring pollen growth are associated with an increase in childhood asthma. Disruption to
freshwater and food crop harvests will exacerbate malnutrition and stunting of growth. More frequent heat waves also put children at risk of heat stress, renal disease, and respiratory problems.
Not all of these problems are found in every country, but every country has environmental issues that are affecting their children. All I can say is, Humans....PLEASE clean up your act! The health of your children, the planet, and we critters depend on each of you doing all you can to combat climate change, clean up drinking water, and to stop using harmful chemicals and pesticides. Please do your part. And encourage others to do the same.
If you are a frequent traveler or even an armchair traveler, I think you'll enjoy tomorrow's blog. That's all I'm gonna say for now. Enjoy your Monday and have a fabulous week!