Child malnutrition and antenatal care: Evidence from three Latin American countries
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The importance of ever-earlier interventions to help children reach their physical and cognitive potential is increasingly being recognized. In part, as a result of this, in developing countries, antenatal care is becoming an important element of strategies to prevent child stunting in utero and later. Notwithstanding their policy relevance and substantial expansion, empirical evidence on the role of antenatal care (ANC) programs in combating stunting is scarce. This study analyzes the role of ANC programs in determining the level and distribution of child stunting in three Andean countries - Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru - where since the 1990s, expanding access to such care has been an explicit policy intervention to tackle child malnutrition. We find that the use of such services is associated with a reduction in the level of malnutrition and at the same time access to such services is relatively equally distributed. While this is a positive sign, it also suggests that further expansion of ANC programs is unlikely to play a large role in reducing inequalities in malnutrition.
- antenatal care
- child malnutrition