Malnutrition pathway for the impact of in utero drought shock on child growth indicators in rural households

Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Environment and Development Economics, 2021, pp. 1-20
Issue Date:
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This paper evaluates the short-Term health effects of in utero drought shock using repeated cross-section household data on Malawi. The main finding reveals that the effects of in utero harvest variability caused by rainfall shocks on child growth indices are driven by the deleterious effects of negative rainfall deviations, namely droughts. Negative rainfall deviation during the agricultural season prior to the gestational period of a child leads to a 21.8 per cent average local level reduction in age-standardized height scores, with the counterpart positive rainfall deviation having no apparent effect. The paper also uses harvest and consumption patterns to establish an important link between early-life malnutrition and growth serving as a precursor for the fetal period programming hypothesis in the literature. The direct impact of embryonic period shocks on growth provides supportive evidence on potential interaction between nutritional and environmental pathways.
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