Children, and particularly infants, have physiological, anatomic, and social factors that increase vulnerability to temperature extremes. We performed a systematic review to explore the association between acute adverse infant outcomes (children 0–1 years) and exposure to high and low ambient temperatures. MEDLINE (Pubmed), Embase, CINAHL Plus, and Global Health were searched alongside the reference lists of key papers. We included published journal papers in English that assessed adverse infant outcomes related to short-term weather-related temperature exposure. Twenty-six studies met our inclusion criteria. Outcomes assessed included: infant mortality (n = 9), sudden infant death syndrome (n = 5), hospital visits or admissions (n = 5), infectious disease outcomes (n = 5), and neonatal conditions such as jaundice (n = 2). Higher temperatures were associated with increased risk of acute infant mortality, hospital admissions, and hand, foot, and mouth disease. Several studies identified low temperature impacts on infant mortality and episodes of respiratory disease. Findings on temperature risks for sudden infant death syndrome were inconsistent. Only five studies were conducted in low- or middle-income countries, and evidence on subpopulations and temperature-sensitive infectious diseases was limited. Public health measures are required to reduce the impacts of heat and cold on infant health.
Temperature, Disease, and Death in London: Analyzing Weekly Data for the Century from 1866 to 1965
Using novel weekly mortality data for London spanning 1866-1965, we analyze the changing relationship between temperature and mortality as the city developed. Our main results show that warm weeks led to elevated mortality in the late nineteenth century, mainly due to infant deaths from digestive diseases. However, this pattern largely disappeared after WWI as infant digestive diseases became less prevalent. The resulting change in the temperature-mortality relationship meant that thousands of heat-related deaths—equal to 0.9-1.4 percent of all deaths— were averted. These findings show that improving the disease environment can dramatically alter the impact of high temperature on mortality.
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- The Journal of Economic History
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- National Science Foundation
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