10 medical reasons against child labour

Briefing note | 08 June 2015

1. Children do not have their bones and muscles fully developed. Because of dangerous working conditions, they may develop bone
deformities, muscle fatigue, and growth and development disorders.

2. The pulmonary ventilation (inhalation and exhalation of air) is reduced for children. So the children have a higher breathing rate causing  greater absorption of toxic substances, and greater damage than for adults. It can lead to death.


3. For a similar effort, children have a higher heart rate than adults (their heart has to beat faster to pump blood). Therefore, they get tired more quickly than adults to perform the same activity.

4. Exposing children to work pressures can cause various symptoms, such as headache, insomnia, dizziness, problems for concentrating and memory, tachycardia, and consequently, decreased of academic performance. This happens because their nervous system is not fully developed. These pressures can cause various psychological problems such as lack of self-confidence, sadness, and fear.

5. The body of a child produces more heat than an adult when it is subjected to demanding tasks, causing dehydration and a high level of fatigue.

6. Children have a softer skin that is more vulnerable to the effects of physical, mechanical, chemical and biological elements than adults.

7. Children have their liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines and stomach in development, which may cause a stronger contamination by absorption of toxic products.

8. Children have narrower peripheral vision compared to adults. They perceive less well what is happening around them. Because work tools and protective equipment is not suitable for small children, they are more prone to workplace accidents.

9. Children have a higher hearing sensitivity than adults, which can cause serious and rapid hearing loss.

10. The work hazards and accidents that affect adult workers can affect child labourers even more strongly. Children victims of labour accident can sustain spinal injury and other disabilities, which can have a profound effect on children’s development, and limit even more their access to decent work in the future.