“Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of heat exposure. They have limited ability to thermoregulate and high temperatures can increase disease transmission and outbreaks,” according to the journal Environmental Research Letters.
However, under a low emissions scenario, around 4,000–6,000 heat-related child deaths per year could be avoided in Africa. This would require rapid reductions in carbon emissions across all regions and would be in line with the Paris target of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC.
Experts estimated the impact of climate change on annual heat-related deaths of children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa from 1995 to 2050.
“More research is urgently needed to understand how extreme heat affects the health of children and which interventions can effectively manage and mitigate heat impacts on vulnerable populations and save thousands of children from dying unnecessarily,” concluded study co-author Shakoor Hajat, an expert in Environmental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.