Heatwaves and wildfires suffocate our healthy start to life: time to assess impact and take action

Publication Name

The Lancet. Planetary health


Adverse environmental exposures in utero and early childhood are known to programme long-term health. Climate change, by contributing to severe heatwaves, wildfires, and other natural disasters, is plausibly associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes and an increase in the future burden of chronic diseases in both mothers and their babies. In this Personal View, we highlight the limitations of existing evidence, specifically on the effects of severe heatwave and wildfire events, and compounding syndemic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, on the short-term and long-term physical and mental health of pregnant women and their babies, taking into account the interactions with individual and community vulnerabilities. We highlight a need for an international, interdisciplinary collaborative effort to systematically study the effects of severe climate-related environmental crises on maternal and child health. This will enable informed changes to public health policy and clinical practice necessary to safeguard the health and wellbeing of current and future generations.

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