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SSM - Population Health






This study aimed to understand whether maternal child marriage and past year intimate partner violence (IPV) impact stunting among Sri Lankan children under 5 years old, and, secondarily, whether proximity to conflict is associated with stunting. Additionally, we assessed whether proximity to conflict moderates the relationships between maternal child marriage and past year IPV (sexual, physical, and emotional). We tested these questions using logistic regression analyses of the 2016 Sri Lankan Demographic and Health Survey (n = 4941 mother-child dyads). In country-wide adjusted analyses, we did not find associations between maternal child marriage or IPV and stunting (p > 0.05). Children in districts proximal and central to conflict were significantly less likely to be stunted compared to children in districts distal to conflict (proximal adjusted odds ratio/aOR: 0.43, 95% confidence interval/CI: 0.22–0.82; central aOR: 0.53, CI: 0.29–0.98). We found significant interaction effects on stunting between proximity to conflict and both sexual and emotional IPV, which we further explored in stratified analyses. In districts distal to conflict, maternal sexual IPV was significantly associated with increased odds of stunting (aOR: 2.71, CI: 1.16–6.35), and in districts central to conflict, maternal emotional IPV was significantly associated with increased odds of stunting (aOR: 1.80, CI: 1.13–2.89). Maternal emotional IPV was significantly associated with decreased odds of stunting in districts proximal to conflict (aOR: 0.42, CI: 0.18–0.96). Maternal child marriage and physical IPV were not associated with stunting in Sri Lanka. Variations in associations between maternal IPV and stunting across Sri Lanka may reflect the lasting and differential impact of conflict, as well as differential humanitarian responses which may have improved child nutrition practices and resources in districts central and proximal to conflict. Policies and programs addressing stunting in Sri Lanka should consider the role of maternal IPV as well as community-level variations based on proximity to conflict.


Sri Lanka, Girl child marriage, Intimate partner violence (IPV), Post-conflict, Stunting


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