Living in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria can increase the risk of giving birth to underweight babies, warns a recent study.
Lead author James Kearsley from the University Of Warwick in Coventry, England, said, "People living in war zones are under constant threat of attack, which has a detrimental effect on their mental and physical health.
Their food and water supplies are often disrupted, and healthcare provision restricted, all of which can take a toll on the health of expectant mothers."
The team analysed more than one million expectant women from 12 countries that have witnessed armed conflict, including Bosnia, Israel, Libya, and Iraq, dating back to 1990.
Kearsley stated, "The long term health implications of low birthweight are significant, because individuals are at increased risk of [ill health] and [death], and will require increased medical care throughout their lives."
The researchers suggested that best available professional healthcare should be provided to pregnant women living in war zones.
However, this will only be possible if warring parties are committed to following the Geneva Convention and refrain from attacking healthcare facilities and workers, Kearsley explained.
Until this happens, women and their babies will be at continued risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy, the researchers concluded.
The research appears in the online journal BMJ Global Health.