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Feinstein to CDC: Consider Effects of Climate Change on Early Births

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield urging the agency to consider the negative health effects of climate change when working to improve maternal and child health. The letter comes after a recent study found that unseasonably hot weather increases the risk of early delivery.

            “According to a 2019 study published in Nature Climate Change that compiled 56 million U.S. birth records from 1969-1988 to examine whether hot weather leads to earlier deliveries, about 25,000 babies each year were born earlier than they would have been due to hot weather,” the senators wrote.

            “Last year was the fourth straight year that the U.S. preterm birth rate rose, which now affects 1 of every 10 infants born. This is especially concerning since preterm birth is a leading cause of infant death. Given that climate change is already contributing to rising temperatures in our country and that babies born too early are more likely to suffer negative health outcomes including death, CDC must confront climate change as a public health imperative to mitigate the lasting consequences it will have on future Americans to come.”

            In addition to Feinstein, the letter was signed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

            Full text of the letter is available here and below.

December 17, 2019

Dr. Robert R. Redfield
Director
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329

Dear Dr. Redfield:

            We write to ask that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prioritize efforts regarding the continuous rise in the number of early births in the United States and the connection it may have with increased exposure to rising temperatures caused by climate change.

            According to a 2019 study published in Nature Climate Change that compiled 56 million U.S. birth records from 1969-1988 to examine whether hot weather leads to earlier deliveries, about 25,000 babies each year were born earlier than they would have been due to hot weather. It further estimates that about 42,000 additional deliveries would be induced annually in the United States by the end of the century due to rising temperatures caused by climate change.

            This study follows a separate report recently published in The Lancet that also found rising temperatures and other consequences of climate change pose a significant threat to the health and well-being of children. It is clear that we must take every action possible today to understand the full impact of climate change on neonatal outcomes to prevent a pediatric health crisis in the future.

            Last year was the fourth straight year that the U.S. preterm birth rate rose, which now affects 1 of every 10 infants born. This is especially concerning since preterm birth is a leading cause of infant death. Given that climate change is already contributing to rising temperatures in our country and that babies born too early are more likely to suffer negative health outcomes including death, CDC must confront climate change as a public health imperative to mitigate the lasting consequences it will have on future Americans to come.

            As CDC works to improve maternal and child health outcomes, the agency must include and prioritize development of solutions to address the health impact of climate change. We ask that your response include a plan to develop these solutions as well as the latest information on the status of infant health in the United States, including whether the U.S. infant mortality rate has risen and its leading causes. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your response. 

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator

Elizabeth Warren
United States Senator

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