Climate hazards, including extreme heat, are associated with increased risks of developing complications that lead to adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. These may include multiple causes of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality such as gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, preterm birth, low birth weight and stillbirth. In addition to the health risks related to poor nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation, the effects of exposure to climate hazards and their aftermath during and after pregnancy can affect mental health and contribute to intergenerational trauma. They may increase stress, anxiety and depression – known risk factors for adverse perinatal outcomes.
The evidence linking global warming with adverse outcomes is mounting and is cause for alarm. While climate change will affect all populations, it is critical to remember that women, newborns and children are impacted disproportionately.
This call for action to protect maternal, newborn and child health from the impacts of climate change was conceptualized and developed through a consultative process between WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA.