Editorial: Danger Zone

High-income countries make the greatest contribution to climate change but the people who have contributed least to the crisis are the most hit, with 91 per cent of deaths of preterm babies related to air pollution occurring in low, middle-income nations, says a report by UN agencies.

The recently released ‘Born Too Soon: Decade of Action on Preterm Birth’ report by WHO, UNICEF and Partnership for Maternal New Born and Child Health highlights myriad impacts of climate change – both direct and indirect – on pregnancy resulting in stillbirths, preterm birth and small for gestational age.

Climate change impacts pregnancy through heat exposure, storms, floods, drought, wildfires and air pollution in terms of food insecurity, water or food-borne diseases, vector-borne diseases, migration, conflict and health system resilience, according to experts.The report suggested more investment is needed to specifically mitigate risks and to increase focus on women and babies in policies and programmes addressing the climate emergency.

Air pollution is estimated to contribute to six million preterm births each year. ‘Vulnerability to climate change is a multi-dimensional, dynamic phenomenon shaped by intersecting historical and contemporary political, economic and cultural processes of marginalisation.”