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Using household survey data to explore the effects of the domiciliary environment on weight at birth: a multilevel mixed-effects analysis of the 2016 Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey
Authors: Aiggan Tamene, Aklilu Habte, Mihretu Tagesse, Zablon Wale Sewalem and Abel Afework
Source: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth , Volume 23; DOI:
Topic(s): Birth weight
Infant mortality
Country: Africa
Published: MAR 2023
Abstract: Background: Low birth weight (LBW) is associated with infant mortality and postpartum health complications. In previous studies, overall LBW has been found to be significantly associated with several sociodemographic factors, including ethnicity, maternal age, and family income. Few studies have evaluated the association between environmental risk factors and LBW rates. This study investigated the effect of pre-birth water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and housing conditions on self-reported low birth weight. Methods: The Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey, which covered all administrative regions of Ethiopia from January to June 2016, provided data for this study. STATA version 16 was used to analyze 12,125 participants across weighted samples. Multivariable multilevel mixed-effect logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the effects of each factor on the outcome while accounting for data clustering. The adjusted odds ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals were used to determine the statistical significance of the independent variables. Results: One thousand five hundred and seventeen newborns, or 12.59% [95% CI (10.2- 15.3)], had low birth weights. When other factors were taken into account, the following factors were significantly associated with low birth weight: not using small-scale water treatment technology before using water [AOR (95% CI) 1.36 (1.08–2.23)], burning solid fuels for energy [AOR (95% CI) 1.99 (1.60–2.21)], living in homes with natural wall coverings [AOR (95% CI) 1.81 (1.47–2.21)], using a shared latrine within a woman's housing complex or compound [AOR (95% CI) 1.63(1.06–2.25)], and living in peripheral, isolated regions [AOR (95% CI) 1.38 (1.06–2.21)]. Conclusion: A little more than one out of every ten deliveries in Ethiopia was under normal (recommended) weight. This study shows that poor housing conditions and lack of household WASH infrastructure are independent predictors of poor birth outcomes among Ethiopian women, adding to the limited evidence that environmental factors within the domicile contribute to low birth weight. Interventions to address these issues may help lower the prevalence of LBW.