El Niño stunts children's growth, Research shows

Children born during and after 1997–1998 El Niño were on average shorter than others born before the event in Peru, according to a research published in the open access journal Climate Change Responses.

Kids in coastal Peru showed signs of stunted growth and muscle loss for years after El Niño hit in ’97, the study has revealed.

The research team measured the height, weight, and fat, and muscle of a random sample of 2,095 children born between 1991 and 2001 in Tumbes, Peru. The result showed that the children born during and shortly after El Niño were shorter and had less lean mass, or body weight minus fat, than children born before the event.

El Niño weather patterns occur in the equatorial Pacific region, often off the northern coasts of Peru and Ecuador. During El Niño episodes, natural disasters such as severe drought and floods are estimated to affect 35 per 1,000 people, more than four times the rate affected by natural disasters during non-El Niño years, the research article has added.

El Niño is responsible for natural disasters and infectious disease outbreaks worldwide. During the 1997–1998 El Niño, northern Peru endured extreme rainfall and flooding.

Journal Reference:
Heather E Danysh, Robert H Gilman, Jonathan C Wells, William K Pan, Benjamin Zaitchik, Guillermo Gonzálvez, María Alvarez, William Checkley (2014). El Niño adversely affected childhood stature and lean mass in northern Peru. Climate Change Responses: 7 DOI: 10.1186/s40665-014-0007-z
Original post: Natural Disasters List December 3, 2014

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