Association of ambient extreme heat with pediatric morbidity: a scoping review

Danielle Uibel, Rachit Sharma, Danielle Piontkowski, Perry E. Sheffield, Jane E. Clougherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Global climate change is leading to higher ambient temperatures and more frequent heatwaves. To date, impacts of ambient extreme heat on childhood morbidity have been understudied, although—given children’s physiologic susceptibility, with smaller body surface-to-mass ratios, and many years of increasing temperatures ahead—there is an urgent need for better information to inform public health policies and clinical approaches. In this review, we aim to (1) identify pediatric morbidity outcomes previously associated with extreme heat, (2) to identify predisposing co-morbidities which may make children more susceptible to heat-related outcomes, and (3) to map the current body of available literature. A scoping review of the current full-text literature was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley framework Int J Soc Res Methodol 8:19-32, (2015). Search terms for (1) pediatric population, (2) heat exposures, (3) ambient conditions, and (4) adverse outcomes were combined into a comprehensive PubMed and Medline literature search. Of the 1753 publications identified, a total of 20 relevant studies were ultimately selected based on selection criteria of relevance to US urban populations. Most identified studies supported positive associations between high extreme temperature exposures and heat-related illness, dehydration/electrolyte imbalance, general symptoms, diarrhea and digestion disorders, infectious diseases/infections, asthma/wheeze, and injury. Most studies found no association with renal disease, cardiovascular diseases, or diabetes mellitus. Results were mixed for other respiratory diseases and mental health/psychological disorders. Very few of the identified studies examined susceptibility to pre-existing conditions; Cystic Fibrosis was the only co-morbidity for which we found significant evidence. Further research is needed to understand the nuances of associations between extreme heat and specific outcomes—particularly how associations may vary by child age, sex, race/ ethnicity, community characteristics, and other pre-existing conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1683-1698
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Child
  • Childhood morbidity
  • Children
  • Chronic conditions
  • Climate change
  • Extreme heat
  • Heat wave
  • High ambient temperatures
  • Hot temperatures
  • Hot weather
  • Pediatric morbidity
  • Vulnerability
  • Warm season


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