Civil Unrest and Birthweight: Effects of the 2007/2008 Kenyan Crisis

Suzanne Bell, University of California, Berkeley
Maureen Lahiff, University of California, Berkeley
Brenda Eskenazi, University of California, Berkeley

We sought to examine the association between the effects of exposure to the 2007/2008 Kenyan Crisis and birthweight. Using the 2008/2009 Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), we compared birthweights of infants in utero or not yet conceived during the 15 months after the political turmoil following the 2007 presidential election (exposed) to those who were born before the crisis (unexposed). Multivariate regression was used. We also examined the possibility of interactions. Overall, exposure to the Kenyan Crisis was associated with lower birthweight. Kikuyu women living in a violent region who were exposed during their 2nd trimester had the greatest difference in birthweight in comparison to all unexposed infants (564·4 grams lower) and compared to unexposed Kikuyu infants (603.6 grams lower). Given the adverse sequelae associated with lowered birthweight, these results suggest that particular attention should be paid to pregnant women and targeted ethnic groups following such events.

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Presented in Session 170: Contextual and Environmental Influences on Children’s Health and Well-Being