Maternal exposure to heatwave and birth outcomes: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

Liliana Andriano, University of Oxford

Intrauterine shocks can adversely affect health at birth, and this can in turn affect the development and well-being during childhood and adulthood. This study aims to fill these gaps in our current knowledge about one such shock—in-utero exposure to heatwave—on birthweight by addressing two poorly understood questions about the timing and mechanism of heatwave effects. I leverage georeferenced survey data from the Demographic and Health Surveys that allow to link the birth outcomes of 64,208 infants across eleven SSA countries with fine-grained climate daily data on heatwave events. Using a difference-in-difference methodology, I find that infants exposed to heatwave in the second trimester of gestation had significantly lower birthweight, and this effect is mediated by reduced gestational age rather than by factors affecting the intrauterine growth. The findings underline the importance of considering early conditions in the creation of unequal outcomes and of investing in maternal health since early pregnancy to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Keywords: Environmental studies, Health and morbidity, Geo-referenced/geo-coded data, Causal analysis / Causal estimation

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 204. Multidimensional Links: Environmental Conditions, Fertility, and Reproductive and Maternal Health