Game Changer . . . Role of the Environment in Children’s Health Recognized

By Kulani Mahikoa
Executive Vice President
Kirkman Group, Inc.


At the end of a challenging year for children’s health, the government has issued a landmark report that has the potential to be a game changer.

The report, a summary from scientists working under the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program from 24 Children’s Centers funded by the National Institute of Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency, connects the increase in chronic children’s health issues to environmental factors – even more than previously thought.
Much of the information summarized in the report has been previously published, however, the statistics, reiterated, make a strong case for considering environmental factors as a key contributor to children’s health. Here are some of the statistics cited in the report:
  • “Children in the U.S. are at high risk for chronic disease.  This may be a result of increasing exposures to environmental toxicants.
  • Approximately 16,000 premature births per year in the U.S. are attributable to air pollution.
  • Children in 4 million U.S. households may be exposed to high levels of lead.
  • In the U.S. more than 1 in 10 babies are born preterm.
  • 60% of acute respiratory infections in children worldwide are related to environmental conditions.
  • Air pollution contributes to 600,000 deaths worldwide in children under five years old.
  • $76.6 billion is the annual cost of environmentally related diseases in U.S. children.”
Some specific childhood conditions, many of which are on the rise in the U.S., are specifically attributable to environmental factors, STAR scientists have documented.  Here is a link to the report, NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers Impact Report, to read more about the science behind these claims. Research has also been prolific regarding specific toxicants that affect children and contribute to chronic health conditions.  There is a long list of research reports in the “Reference” section of the report.

About Kulani Mahikoa

Kulani Mahikoa is Vice President and Marketing Director of Kirkman Group, Inc. She has had successful careers both as a journalist and as an entrepreneur.
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