Impact of ambient temperature on children's health: A systematic review

Zhiwei Xu, Ruth A. Etzel, Hong Su, Cunrui Huang, Yuming Guo, Shilu Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


Children are vulnerable to temperature extremes. This paper aimed to review the literature regarding the relationship between ambient temperature and children's health and to propose future research directions. A literature search was conducted in February 2012 using the databases including PubMed, ProQuest, ScienceDirect, Scopus and Web of Science. Empirical studies regarding the impact of ambient temperature on children's mortality and morbidity were included. The existing literature indicates that very young children, especially children under one year of age, are particularly vulnerable to heat-related deaths. Hot and cold temperatures mainly affect cases of infectious diseases among children, including gastrointestinal diseases, malaria, hand, foot and mouse disease, and respiratory diseases. Pediatric allergic diseases, like eczema, are also sensitive to temperature extremes. During heat waves, the incidences of renal disease, fever and electrolyte imbalance among children increase significantly. Future research is needed to examine the balance between hot- and cold-temperature related mortality and morbidity among children; evaluate the impacts of cold spells on cause-specific mortality in children; identify the most sensitive temperature exposure and health outcomes to quantify the impact of temperature extremes on children; elucidate the possible modifiers of the temperature and children's health relationship; and project children's disease burden under different climate change scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-131
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Child health
  • Climate change
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Temperature

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