Climatic Conditions and Child Nutrition in Ethiopia
About the talk
Child undernutrition is a critical population health challenge. Sustained undernutrition in utero and early life can lead to long-term negative health and human capital outcomes including reduced neurocognitive function, lower educational attainment, and lower wages and lifetime earnings. In response to persistently high levels of child undernutrition in many world regions, the United Nations has aimed one of its Sustainable Development Goals at ending all forms of malnutrition worldwide by 2030. However, climate change is likely to undermine this goal by both directly and indirectly affecting health and food security. This talk focuses on Ethiopia, a country where 50% of rural children experience undernutrition. I examine linkages between climatic conditions in utero and during early life and stunting, a measure of chronic undernutrition. In addition, I explore relationships between climatic conditions, duration of exclusive breastfeeding, and women’s time use in agriculture. I find that more rainfall during the rainy seasons in early life is associated with greater height for age, higher temperatures in utero and more rainfall during the third trimester are positively associated with severe stunting, and that stunting decreases with temperature in early life. Lastly, more rainfall during the primary agricultural season in a child’s first year of life is linked to a shorter duration of exclusive breastfeeding and more time women spend performing agricultural labor. These findings suggest that a set of complex pathways likely underlies the link between climate and child nutrition in Ethiopia and should motivate additional research to better understand the causal mechanisms.
About the speaker
Heather Randell is a sociologist and demographer with interests in environmental change, sustainable development, and human health and well-being. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography at Penn State. Prior to joining Penn State, Dr. Randell completed postdoctoral fellowships at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the University of Maryland. Heather uses quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the health and social impacts of climate change as well as the linkages between dam construction and the well-being of local communities. This work is international in scope and has resulted in publications in journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Global Environmental Change, World Development, and Social Science & Medicine. Dr. Randell received a PhD in Sociology from Brown University, a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University, and a BS in Biology from Cornell University.
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