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Journal Article

Jan 2, 2024

Flood | Stillbirths

Flood exposure and pregnancy loss in 33 developing countries


Floods have affected billions worldwide. Yet, the indirect health impacts of floods on vulnerable groups, particularly women in the developing world, remain underexplored. Here, we evaluated the risk of pregnancy loss for women exposed to floods. We analyzed 90,465 individual pregnancy loss records from 33 developing countries, cross-referencing each with spatial-temporal flood databases. We found that gestational flood exposure is associated with increased pregnancy loss with an odds ratio of 1.08 (95% confidence interval: 1.04 – 1.11). This risk is pronounced for women outside the peak reproductive age range (<21 or >35) or during the mid and late-stage of pregnancy. The risk escalated for women dependent on surface water, with lower income or education levels. We estimated that, over the 2010s, gestational flood events might be responsible for approximately 107,888 (CIs: 53,944 – 148,345) excess pregnancy losses annually across 33 developing countries. Notably, there is a consistent upward trend in annual excess pregnancy losses from 2010 to 2020, and was more prominent over Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and South Asia. Our findings underscore the disparities in maternal and child health aggravated by flood events in an evolving climate.