Academic Publication

Climate Change and Child Health Inequality: A Review of Reviews

Emmanuelle Arpin, Karl Gauffin, Meghan Kerr, Anders Hjern, Angela Mashford-Pringle, Aluisio Barros, Luis Rajmil, Imti Choonara, and Nicholas Spencer
MDPI - International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication Year:
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


There is growing evidence on the observed and expected consequences of climate change on population health worldwide. There is limited understanding of its consequences for child health inequalities, between and within countries. To examine these consequences and categorize the state of knowledge in this area, we conducted a review of reviews indexed in five databases (Medline, Embase, Web of Science, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts). Reviews that reported the effect of climate change on child health inequalities between low- and high-income children, within or between countries (high- vs low–middle-income countries; HICs and LMICs), were included. Twenty-three reviews, published between 2007 and January 2021, were included for full-text analyses. Using thematic synthesis, we identified strong descriptive, but limited quantitative, evidence that climate change exacerbates child health inequalities. Explanatory mechanisms relating climate change to child health inequalities were proposed in some reviews; for example, children in LMICs are more susceptible to the consequences of climate change than children in HICs due to limited structural and economic resources. Geographic and intergenerational inequalities emerged as additional themes from the review. Further research with an equity focus should address the effects of climate change on adolescents/youth, mental health and inequalities within countries.


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