The predictions for the decline in living standards in Britain are dramatic. Calling it a “winter humanitarian crisis”, experts warn that living in cold homes will have a dire impact on children’s health, affecting their lungs and brain development, leading to deaths.
If the country’s next prime minister does not curb rising fuel costs, children will face a range of respiratory illnesses with long-term effects, according to a study by Sir Michael Marmot, head of the Institute for Health Equity of University College London, and Professor Ian Sinha, specialist consultant in respiratory issues at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.
The two researchers warn that living in a cold house can cause serious problems in children’s lungs, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and bronchitis in adulthood.
They add that the development of millions of children will be affected, suffering from lung problems and “toxic stress” that will affect their brain development.
The stress factor will affect young and old. “If we’re constantly worrying about how we’re going to cope, we have increased stress, which can affect the heart, blood vessels and immune system. In such an environment, thousands of people will die before their time,” notes Marmot.
A crisis worse than that of the coronavirus
At the same time, due to the “crisis of the cold” – as they call it – educational inequalities will increase, as children will find it difficult to do their homework in their frozen homes.
“It is not possible for Britain in the 21st century to have so many citizens in a state of energy insecurity. The government must act now. It is clear that we are facing a significant humanitarian crisis,” Marmot said loudly.
Sinha warned parents not to wrap their babies in layers of clothing and not to sleep in the same beds.
According to the WHO, humidity contributes to 15% of new cases of childhood asthma in Europe. For children with asthma, lung function worsens when the indoor temperature drops below 9 degrees Celsius.
Clare Bambra, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, said the cost of living crisis threatens to become a public health crisis that will outstrip that of the coronavirus pandemic.
The biggest drop in living standards in a century
The study follows major new research by the Resolution Foundation think tank, which notes that Britain is facing the biggest fall in living standards for a century. A typical household loses £3,000 in real income over two years, inflation hits 15% for the poorest households and the cost of living crisis is set to last until 2024.
The Resolution Foundation predicts that 3 million Britons will be in extreme poverty, taking the total to 45 million by January 2023. Child poverty will reach its highest level since the 1990s.
“There will be a lot of deaths among children, whose families will be forced to be unable to have heating in their homes. It is very dangerous,” notes the president of the British Pediatric Respiratory Society, dr. Simon Langton – Hewer.
With information from the Guardian