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Stunted from the Start: Early Life Weather Conditions and Child Undernutrition in Ethiopia


Randell, Heather; Gray, Clark L.; & Grace, Kathryn (2020). Stunted from the Start: Early Life Weather Conditions and Child Undernutrition in Ethiopia. Social Science & Medicine, 261, 113234. PMCID: PMC7716344


This paper examines the relationship between weather conditions and child nutrition in Ethiopia. We link data from four rounds of the Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey to high-resolution climate data to measure exposure to rainfall and temperature in utero and during early life. We then estimate a set of multivariate regression models to understand how weather conditions impact child stunting, an indicator of sustained early life undernutrition. We find that greater rainfall during the rainy seasons in early life is associated with greater height for age. In addition, higher temperatures in utero, particularly during the first and third trimesters, and more rainfall during the third trimester, are positively associated with severe stunting, though stunting decreases with temperature in early life. We find potential evidence for a number of pathways underlying the weather-child nutrition relationship including agricultural livelihoods, heat stress, infectious disease transmission, and women's time use during pregnancy. These findings illuminate the complex pathways through which climate change may influence child health and should motivate additional research focused on identifying the causal mechanisms underlying these links.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type


Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science & Medicine


Randell, Heather
Gray, Clark L.
Grace, Kathryn



Data Set/Study

Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey