Investigating the linkages between pregnancy outcomes and climate in sub-Saharan Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Poor pregnancy outcomes include miscarriages, stillbirths, and low birth weights. Stress from heat and lack of resources play a potentially important role in producing these poor outcomes. Women and couples who experience these poor outcomes rather than a healthy birth suffer psychological, physical, social, and financial costs as well. We use detailed reproductive data in combination with fine-scale climate data to examine pregnancy outcomes among women in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that shelters some of the poorest families in the world. Fine-scale precipitation and temperature data allow each pregnancy to be matched to the relevant climate exposures. We investigate the linkages between climate and pregnancy outcomes using linear probability models with fixed effects to minimize confounding due to factors that vary by location, season, and year. We analyze retrospective pregnancy data from more than 65,000 pregnancies recorded in 23 surveys across 15 African countries. Our results indicate that pregnancy outcomes are indeed impacted by exposure to hot days even after considering other individual-level characteristics. This research provides insight into the linkages between climate and a major adverse health outcome faced by women. In doing so, this research expands scientific understanding of the impact of environmental factors on fertility outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-421
Number of pages25
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Birth weight
  • Climate
  • Pregnancy outcomes
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Women’s health

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