a1 Department of Planning Information and Administration, Fukuoka Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences, Fukuoka, Japan
a2 Department of International Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine (NEKKEN) and the Global Center of Excellence Programme, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan
Investigations of the relationship between weather variability and infectious gastroenteritis (IG) are becoming increasingly important in light of international interest in the potential health effects of climate change. However, few studies have examined the impact on children, despite the fact that children are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change. We acquired data about cases of IG in children aged <15 years and about weather variability in Fukuoka, Japan from 2000 to 2008 and used time-series analyses to assess how weather variability affected IG cases, adjusting for confounding factors. The temperature–IG relationship had an inverted V shape, with fewer cases at temperatures lower and higher than ~13°C. Every 1°C increase in temperature below the threshold (13°C) was associated with a 23·2% [95% confidence interval (CI) 16·6–30·2] increase, while every 1°C increase in temperature above the threshold (13°C) was associated with an 11·8% (95% CI 6·6–17·3) decrease in incidence. The increase in cases per 1% drop in relative humidity was 3·9% (95% CI 2·8–5·0). The percentage increase of IG cases was greatest in the 0–4 years age group and tended to decrease with increasing age. We found a progressive reduction in weather-related IG cases in children aged >4 years. Our results suggest that public health interventions aimed at controlling weather-related IG may be most effective when focused on young children.
(Accepted October 04 2010)
(Online publication November 03 2010)
c1 Author for correspondence: Dr D. Onozuka, Department of Planning Information and Administration, Fukuoka Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences, 39 Mukaizano, Dazaifu-shi, Fukuoka 818-0135, Japan. (Email: email@example.com)