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Child health outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa: A comparison of changes in climate and socio-economic factors
Authors: Frank Davenport, Kathryn Grace, Chris Funk, and Shraddhanand Shukla
Source: Global Environmental Change, 46: 72-87; DOI:
Topic(s): Birth weight
Child health
Children under five
Food insecurity
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: SEP 2017
Abstract: We compare changes in low birth weight and child malnutrition in 13 African countries under projected climate change versus socio-economic development scenarios. Climate scenarios are created by linking surface temperature gradients with declines in seasonal rainfall sea along with warming values of 1 °C and 2 °C. Socio-economic scenarios are developed by assigning regionally specific changes in access to household electricity and mother's education. Using these scenarios, in combination with established models of children's health, we investigate and compare the changes in predicted health outcomes. We find that the negative effects of warming and drying on child stunting could be mitigated by positive development trends associated with increasing mothers’ educational status and household access to electricity. We find less potential for these trends to mitigate how warming and drying trends impact birth weights. In short, under warming and drying, the risk of more malnourished children is greater than the risk of more children with low birth weights, but increases in child malnutrition could be averted in regions that increase access to educational resources and basic infrastructure. Keywords Climate change; Shared socioeconomic pathways; Infant health; Food security