Over 4% newborn deaths linked to climate change in lower, middle income countries: Study

Four countries were estimated to have the highest overall newborn death rates — Pakistan, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.


Published Jul 05, 2024 | 3:00 PM Updated Jul 05, 2024 | 4:10 PM

Climate change. Representational Image.

Over four percent of newborn deaths are related to high and low temperatures, driven by climate change, according to research looking at 29 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Of the four percent, on average, 1.5 percent of annual newborn deaths across these countries were linked to extreme heat, while nearly three percent were linked to extreme cold, said researchers who studied the data between 2001-2019.

Further, 32 percent of all heat-related deaths in newborn babies over the period 2001-2019, amounting to more than 1.75 lakh deaths, were attributed to climate change, estimated an international team of researchers, including those from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.

Also Read: Short-term exposure to pollution kills several people in Chennai,Bengaluru, Hyderabad

Effect of climate change

Climate change was also found to be responsible for lowering the risk of newborn death related to cold temperatures by over 30 percent, amounting to 4.57 lakh fewer newborn deaths. The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Across the 29 countries studied, the yearly temperatures on average had increased by 0.9 degrees Celsius during 2001-2019, which the authors attributed to climate change.

Sub-Saharan African countries experienced the most pronounced effects of global warming on deaths in newborn babies linked to extreme temperatures, the authors said.

Also Read: Air pollution caused 8.1m deaths globally in 2021, 2.1m in India

Highly affected countries

Four countries were estimated to have the highest overall newborn death rates — Pakistan, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

These countries also recorded the highest temperature-related newborn death rates of over 160 per one lakh live births, the researchers found.

Data on more than 40,000 newborn deaths were taken from nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).

Newborn babies are known to have immature temperature regulation abilities, further complicated by their high metabolism and low sweating rates, thereby, not dissipating heat sufficiently.

Previous studies have estimated that in 2019, there were 24 lakh newborn deaths, accounting for nearly half (47 percent) of all deaths in children under five years of age. Over 90 per cent of all newborn deaths were found to occur in LMICs, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)

(South First is now on WhatsApp and Telegram)