Armed Conflict and Birthweight: Micro-Level Evidence on Violence and Anti-Coca Fumigation in Colombia
Armed conflict has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birthweight, stillbirth and neonatal mortality. This study analyzes birthweight in the unique context of Colombia, where a long-standing conflict has created multiple stressors that may impair maternal and child health. Pathways suggested to account for this relationship include mother’s stress, nutritional deficiencies, lack of adequate health care, and intimate partner violence. We further contribute with novel analyses of the impact of anti-coca fumigation that has been harmful to health. Combining micro-level survey data with spatiotemporal information about organized violence and anti-coca fumigation, we explore how intrauterine exposure to these stressors are related to birthweight. We find that a mother’s exposure to violence and fumigation is detrimental to the intrauterine growth of her children, net of gestational length, parity, and mother’s characteristics such as age, location or genetics. The relationship between conflict and birthweight was stratified by mother’s age, residence, and educational level. The findings are indicative of a scarring effect from armed conflict on live-born children that may impair their future health and socioeconomic status outcomes. The results add to knowledge about maternal and child health during crises, and the importance of context for individuals’ health.
Original titleArmed Conflict and Birthweight: Micro-Level Evidence on Violence and Anti-Coca Fumigation in Colombia