Sleeping in a cold and frigid bedroom for even a single night can affect the lung function of a child for up to a fortnight, a new study conducted by researchers at Otago University reveals.
Researchers led by Dr Nevil Pierse looked at more than a million temperature measurements in 405 homes in Bluff, Dunedin, Christchurch, Porirua, and the Hutt Valley and found that spending even an hour in a bedroom that had a one degree drop in temperature affected the lung function of a healthy child.
The researchers said that the effects were the greatest when children were exposed to temperatures under 12 degrees Celsius though in some cases they also found that children were exposed to temperatures under -2.5 degrees Celsius. According to the World Health Organization recommendations, children should not sleep in rooms with temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius and the harm of changes below 12 degrees Celsius was more than 10 times that of changes at 18 degrees Celsius.
"Children who spend time in lower temperatures get increased wheezing, and more cold and flu symptoms. One night in hospital for asthma costs on average $1700, whereas insulating a house costs $1500. So we're taking a child who's sick, we're bringing them into hospital, which is nice and warm, giving them some drugs, and putting them back in the same problem again", Dr Pierse said.