Features age-related development of children

A safe, healthy and protective environment is key to ensuring all children grow and develop normally and healthily. In 2015, reducing environmental risks could have prevented more than a features age-related development of children of the 5.

9 million deaths of children under 5 years. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, hazardous chemicals, climate change, and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. In March 2017, WHO published the second edition of Inheriting a sustainable world: The atlas on children’s health and the environment, which outlines the impact of the environment on children’s health and recommends solutions for preventing diseases and deaths in the future. 5 years and older currently report asthma symptoms.

Many of these symptoms are related to indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand tobacco smoke, pollens and indoor mould and dampness. Every year, 361 000 children under 5 years die from diarrhoea, which could be prevented by improved access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and ending open defecation. Unsafe use, storage and disposal of pesticides are the main causes of acute poisoning among children. Better environmental management of these water bodies could help prevent the more than 300 000 deaths in children under 5 years. They are particularly vulnerable to poisons because of their smaller size and less developed physiology and because they like to explore and often put items in their mouth. Higher temperatures and higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide favouring pollen growth are associated with increased rates of asthma.

Disruption to fresh water supplies and food crop harvests will exacerbate malnutrition and stunting. 6 million children under the age of 5 years died in 2016. This translates into 15 000 under-five deaths per day. More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions. Leading causes of death in children under-5 years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria.

Children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 15 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than children in high income countries. Improving the quality of antenatal care, care at the time of childbirth, and postnatal care for mothers and their newborns are all essential to prevent these deaths. 6 million children died in the first month of life in 2016. From the end of the neonatal period and through the first 5 years of life, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. Malnutrition is the underlying contributing factor, making children more vulnerable to severe diseases.