Protecting Infants from Natural Disasters: The Case of Vitamin a Supplementation and a Tornado in Bangladesh

45 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2019 Last revised: 17 Jun 2021

See all articles by Snaebjorn Gunnsteinsson

Snaebjorn Gunnsteinsson

University of Maryland

Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Parul Christian

Johns Hopkins University

Alain Labrique

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore MD, USA

Jonathan Sugimoto

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Abu Shamim

Johns Hopkins University - JiViTa Research Project

Keith West

Johns Hopkins University

Date Written: June 2019

Abstract

Severe environmental shocks have grown in frequency and intensity due to climate change. Can policy protect against the often devastating human impacts of these shocks, particularly for vulnerable populations? We study this question by leveraging data from a situation in which a tornado tore through an area involved in a double-blind cluster-randomized controlled trial of at-birth vitamin A supplementation in Bangladesh. Tornado exposure in utero and in infancy decreased birth size and physical growth, and increased the incidence of severe fevers. But infants who received vitamin A supplementation, which boosts immune system functioning, were protected from these effects. Tornado impacts and protective effects were both substantially larger for boys. Our results suggest that wide-scale supplementation policies would generate potential health benefits in disaster-prone areas of low-income countries.

Suggested Citation

Gunnsteinsson, Snaebjorn and Adhvaryu, Achyuta and Christian, Parul and Labrique, Alain and Sugimoto, Jonathan and Shamim, Abu Ahmed and West, Keith, Protecting Infants from Natural Disasters: The Case of Vitamin a Supplementation and a Tornado in Bangladesh (June 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25969, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3411374

Snaebjorn Gunnsteinsson (Contact Author)

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Parul Christian

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

Alain Labrique

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore MD, USA ( email )

615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Jonathan Sugimoto

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center ( email )

1100 Fairview Avenue North
M2-C206
Seattle, WA 98109-1024
United States

Abu Ahmed Shamim

Johns Hopkins University - JiViTa Research Project ( email )

Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Keith West

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

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