23 August 2019 - 28 August 2019
Utrecht, The Netherlands

On airs, waters, places

World Population Program scientist Anna Dimitrova will discuss latest research from IIASA's Empowered Life Years project at the 31st annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.

Woman and children taking shelter after flood, Assam, India © David Talukdar | Dreamstime.com

Woman and children taking shelter after flood, Assam, India © David Talukdar | Dreamstime.com

The 31st annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE 2019) will take place in the historic city of Utrecht, the Netherlands, attracting over 1,000 participants from all parts of the world. These include not only academic or government scientists, but also public health professionals, consultants, and industry representatives as well as participants from major international stakeholders such as the World Health Organisation, the European Union, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US based Health Effects Institute. The meeting theme is ‘”On Airs, Waters, Places”’ in recognition of what was probably the first surviving text on environmental health, written by Hippocrates of Kos some 400 years B.C.E.

World Population Program researcher Anna Dimitrova will give a presentation entitled "Monsoon flooding and early childhood health in India" at this conference. Dimitrova joined the World Population (POP) Program as a Research Assistant in January 2018, to work on the development of indicators for long-term human well-being. She is member of the ERC funded "The Demography of Sustainable Human Wellbeing" project, lead by Wolfgang Lutz, that aims to develop new indicators for long-term human wellbeing that include feedbacks from environmental and other changes.

For more information please visit the event website.


Background: India is expected to experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of floods in the coming decades, which poses serious risks to human health and wellbeing in the country. Objective: This paper aims to shed light on the possible detrimental effects of flood exposure on childhood undernutrition in India using the Demographic and Health Survey 2015-16, in combination with geo-referenced climate data. Methods: Undernutrition is captured through measures of stunting, wasting and being underweight among children aged 0-59 months. The standardised precipitation and evapotranspiration index (SPEI) is used to measure climatic conditions. Results: The results of a multivariate logistic regression show that climatic conditions during in-utero and infancy can have long-lasting implications on child’s growth; exposure to heavy monsoons during these early years of life elevates the risk of stunting. Regional differences are also observed, with children residing in Central and East India being most susceptible to heavy monsoons, while children from other regions are not affected. In the short run, an increase in SPEI elevates the risk of wasting in Central India and the risk of being underweight in Central and South India. Conclusions: The findings of the present analysis warn of the urgent need to provide long-term nutritional programs to assist children in flood-prone areas.  

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Last edited: 14 August 2019

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