This talk will discuss the association of early-life exposure to air pollution and climate change with anthropometric failure (stunting, wasting and underweight) among children under 5 years of age in Africa. We linked nationally representative anthropometric data from 55 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) carried out in 31 different African countries between 2003-2018 (n= 251,296 children < 5 years of age) with the average satellite-based fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations, temperature and precipitation during the month of birth of each child. We used fixed effects modelling at the household level, while controlling for trends over time, seasonality and child-level characteristics, to assess the relationship between early-life exposure to these factors with subsequent stunting, wasting and underweight. Furthermore, we explored the timing of exposure, potential effect modifiers such as wealth, urban/rural, country and year, and potential non-linearities in the concentration-response relationship of PM2.5.
Our analysis reveals that increases in average PM2.5 concentrations and temperatures during the month of birth were significantly associated with increased risk of stunting, wasting and underweight. Furthermore, increases in monthly-averaged precipitation were significantly associated with decreased risk of anthropometric failure. With a disproportionate impact of climate change coupled with increasing air pollution levels in Africa, our findings highlight the urgency of tackling these challenges to eradicate child undernutrition on the continent.