Climate change poses risks to the health of every child.  Climate-related health risks are amplified for children already burdened by structural racism and poverty.  Primary care pediatricians can do so much to reduce these risks. Many health promotion behaviors emphasized at well child visits, such as healthy diets, are part of the solution to climate change.  By incorporating climate change into the well child visit, primary care pediatricians can identify children at risk of harmful exposures, enhance wellness promotion, and prepare children and their families to protect their health in the climate crisis.  Read this paper on how to incorporate climate change anticipatory guidance into the well-child visit.

Screening topics and questions for patients regarding climate-related health risks:

Food Insecurity

Climate change puts crop yields at risk and can disrupts global food supply change

In the last 12 months, have you worried you would run out of food before you had money to buy more?

Water Source and Safety

Climate change increases the frequency of floods, droughts, and water-bourne diseases.  Bottled water contributes to pollution and the climate crisis and is not generally safer.

What is your primary drinking water source?

Housing Security and Housing Problems

Those without shelter face significant risk from extreme weather.  Run-down housing is also a risk factor for health impacts of extreme weather.

What is your housing situation?  Do you have problems with cooling your house down on hot days, or keeping the air clean during smoke events?

Energy Security

Extreme weather contributes to power outages and increased energy costs

In the past 12 months, have you had trouble paying your utility bills, or has a utility company turned off or threatened to turn off your services?

Depression Screening

Climate change, disasters, and displacement can compromise mental health

Validated screen such as the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7