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Children 2014, 1(3), 403-423; doi:10.3390/children1030403

Will Global Climate Change Alter Fundamental Human Immune Reactivity: Implications for Child Health?

1
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Corner of Mills and Eggleston Roads, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia
2
Departments of General Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Canberra Hospital, Yamba Drive, Garran, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2605, Australia
3
Australian National University Medical School, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200, Australia
4
Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, 100 Roberts Road, Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia 6008, Australia
This paper is dedicated to the memory of the late Emeritus Professor Anthony J. McMichael, a pioneering and internationally renowned researcher in the field of environmental epidemiology, an outstanding mentor, treasured colleague and friend.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 August 2014 / Revised: 7 October 2014 / Accepted: 12 October 2014 / Published: 11 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Climate Change on Child Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [556 KB, uploaded 11 November 2014]   |  

Abstract

The human immune system is an interface across which many climate change sensitive exposures can affect health outcomes. Gaining an understanding of the range of potential effects that climate change could have on immune function will be of considerable importance, particularly for child health, but has, as yet, received minimal research attention. We postulate several mechanisms whereby climate change sensitive exposures and conditions will subtly impair aspects of the human immune response, thereby altering the distribution of vulnerability within populations—particularly for children—to infection and disease. Key climate change-sensitive pathways include under-nutrition, psychological stress and exposure to ambient ultraviolet radiation, with effects on susceptibility to infection, allergy and autoimmune diseases. Other climate change sensitive exposures may also be important and interact, either additively or synergistically, to alter health risks. Conducting directed research in this area is imperative as the potential public health implications of climate change-induced weakening of the immune system at both individual and population levels are profound. This is particularly relevant for the already vulnerable children of the developing world, who will bear a disproportionate burden of future adverse environmental and geopolitical consequences of climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: children; paediatrics; climate change; immunity; ultraviolet radiation; heat stress; psychological stress; malnutrition children; paediatrics; climate change; immunity; ultraviolet radiation; heat stress; psychological stress; malnutrition
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Swaminathan, A.; Lucas, R.M.; Harley, D.; McMichael, A.J. Will Global Climate Change Alter Fundamental Human Immune Reactivity: Implications for Child Health? Children 2014, 1, 403-423.

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