Exposure to conflict-related violence and nutritional status of children in Iraq

Yubraj Acharya, Nancy Luke, Saman Naz, Dhiraj Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


There is limited empirical evidence of the health effects of war-related violence on child nutritional status. Using unique micro-level data from Iraq, we create measures of cumulative exposure to violence since conception for children ages two to five based on their date of birth and geographic location. We examine the relationship between height-for-age z-scores, a measure of chronic malnutrition, and four indicators of violence in a regression framework, adjusting for potential confounders and trends. We find that a child exposed to the maximum number of violent incidents is likely to experience a 0.5 standard deviation reduction in height-for-age z-score compared to a child who is exposed to no incidents. Each type of attack we evaluate is negatively associated with height-for-age. Further analysis reveals that the associations are the strongest for children in the northern and central regions where the bulk of the violent incidents occurred. Contrary to our expectation, the associations are similar for boys and girls. Our findings suggest that, in addition to efforts aimed at decreasing violent conflict in Iraq in general, the government and its development partners should focus relief, recovery, and reconstruction efforts in the central and northern regions of the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100585
JournalSSM - Population Health
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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