On the occasion of the annual conference of the Italian Association of Epidemiology, Silvia Maritano was awarded second place in the Maccacaro Prize with an abstract dedicated to the association between extreme climatic events and the respiratory health of children from the NINFEA cohort.

The abstract applied a life-course approach (monitoring exposure conditions and health outcomes prospectively) to the study of the relationship between extreme events and health.

Combining the children's georeferenced residential addresses with databases deriving from climate analysis and satellite data made it possible to calculate the number of events to which each individual was exposed during their first year of life.

In particular, the following events were examined:

  • heat waves, defined as three or more days with maximum temperatures >35 degrees;
  • daily exposures to high PM2.5 from fires (above the World Health Organization daily threshold for PM2.5);
  • extreme rainfall: days with cumulative rainfall above 100mm;
  • months of extreme drought defined according to the values ​​of the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI).

An increased risk of wheezing and whistling in the chest in early childhood was found for each additional exposure to heat waves (20% increase) and months of drought (10% increase).

The results for exposure to PM from wildfires are weaker and no effect on respiratory health was found for heavy rainfall.

This study, in addition to demonstrating the already existing relationship between exposures to extreme events, the frequency and intensity of which has increased due to climate change, confirms the validity of the life-course approach within birth cohorts as a tool with high potential in the study of the climate-health relationship.