Spatially explicit analyses of environmental and health data to determine past, emerging and future threats to child health

Peter N. Le Souëf, Chitra M. Saraswati, Melinda Judge, Corey J.A. Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Dire forecasts predict that an increasingly hostile environment globally will increase the threats to human health. Infants and young children are especially at risk because children are particularly vulnerable to climate-related stressors. The childhood diseases most affected, the breadth and magnitude of future health problems and the time frame over which these problems will manifest remain largely unknown. Objectives: To review the possibility that spacially explicit analyses can be used to determine how climate change has affected children's health to date and whether these analyses can be used for future projections. Methods: As an example of whether these objectives can be achieved, all available Australian environmental and health databases were reviewed. Results: Environmental and health data in Australia have been collected for up to 30 years for the same spatial areas at ‘Statistical Area level 1’ (SA1) scale. SA1s are defined as having a population of between 200 and 800 people and collectively they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlap. Although the SA1 environmental and health data have been collected separately, they can be merged to allow detailed statistical analyses that can determine how climate change has affected the health of children. Conclusions: The availability of environmental and health datasets that share the same precise spatial coordinates provides a pathway whereby past and emerging effects on child health can be measured and predicted into the future. Given that the future health and well-being of children is one of society's greatest concerns, this information is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1830-1834
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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