Extreme heat poses serious health risks to children, experts warn

With record-breaking heat waves sweeping the nation, researchers are highlighting the unique dangers that extreme temperatures pose to children.

Victoria St. Martin reports for Inside Climate News.


In short:

  • Children’s bodies process heat differently than adults, with less ability to sweat and more rapid overheating.
  • Extreme heat can impact children's learning, sleep, and mental health, leading to long-term health issues.
  • Public health experts advise keeping children hydrated, dressed in loose clothing, and never leaving them in hot vehicles.

Key quote:

"Children are not little adults. Children and infants, especially the way that their bodies work, is different. Infants do not have the same ability to sweat. The way that their lungs work, the way that their heart pumps blood, all of those things—their bodies respond in a different way to heat."

— Mattie Wolf, neonatologist at Emory University’s School of Medicine

Why this matters:

Children are more vulnerable to heat-related health issues, which can lead to severe conditions like muscle breakdown and kidney failure. Extreme heat can have indirect effects on children's health and well-being. School closures, limited outdoor playtime, and disrupted routines can affect their physical activity and mental health. This is especially concerning as kids need regular exercise for their development, and staying indoors often leads to increased screen time, which comes with its own set of health risks.

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