Extreme weather stunted growth of Peruvian children

2014-11-25 10:20

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Oslo - Children in Peru on the front line of a severe cyclical warming of the Pacific Ocean in 1997-98 suffered stunted growth, showing how extreme weather can cause lasting damage to health, a study said on Tuesday.

The study of 2 095 children born between 1991 and 2001 in villages around Tumbes in northern Peru found that those born during or just after the El Nino weather system, which caused floods, damaged crops and triggered illnesses such as malaria and diarrhoea, grew less than normal.

"The El Nino had a big effect by reducing food availability", William Checkley, one of the authors at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, told Reuters. Children under three, a crucial period for growth, were hardest hit.

Overall, children in areas apparently hardest hit by floods were 4cm shorter than normal by the age of 10, he said.

Stunting has been linked with decreased mental and physical capacity in later life.

"If adverse weather events affect a significant portion of young children of a country, then they have the potential to adversely affect the future of a community as a whole", said the study by scientists in the United States, Peru and Britain, published in the journal Climate Change Responses.

A UN report this month said downpours linked with El Nino events, which typically happen every three to seven years and can disrupt weather worldwide, may intensify because of climate change.

Officials from almost 200 governments will meet in Lima from 1-12 December for UN talks about ways to slow global warming. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said last week that the tropical Pacific was showing renewed signs of El Nino conditions.

Another report on Tuesday suggested that investments in nutrition for children were among the best ways to safeguard health in developing nations, yielding benefits of $45 for every $1 spent because of higher expected earnings.

Avoiding stunting "should be a top development priority", wrote the authors, Susan Horton of the University of Waterloo in Canada and John Hoddinott of Cornell University in New York state.

"It turns out that what looks like a good idea morally is also really good economically", said Bjorn Lomborg, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, which commissioned the study.

Read more on:    peru  |  health  |  weather

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.