Impacts of Maternal Histories of Violence and Displacement on Offspring Health at the Thai-Myanmar Border

Stephanie Koning , Northwestern University

Record-high forced displacement constitutes a global public health emergency where women and children face disproportionate health risks. Studying how displacement experiences shape perinatal outcomes provides key insights for improving maternal and child health for displaced populations and furthermore elucidates how common, yet understudied, patterns of stress over the life-course contribute to health disparities. For instance, how do maternal histories of war-related instability and trauma before birth affect offspring health? And to what degree are these effects mitigated or exacerbated by women’s post-displacement circumstances in the perinatal period, e.g., housing quality, working conditions, or deportation risks? I investigate these questions using survey data I collected from 375 maternal-child pairs at the Thai-Myanmar border including maternal life events and child birthweight and anthropometry for children born between 2011 and 2015. Preliminary study results suggest that low birth weight risk is significantly influenced by maternal stressors both pre- and post-displacement.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1