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Malaria Infection and Fetal Growth during the War: Evidence from Liberia

Discussion Papers

No.556

February 2016

ABSTRACT

This study investigates whether the Liberian civil war increased infant mortality by exposing pregnant women to a high risk of malaria infection, thus retarding fetal development. I find that the war-induced, one-percent increase in maternal infection risk resulted in a 0.44 percent increase in one-year mortality. This mortality effect gradually increased following childbirth as maternal passive immunity waned. The consequences were pronounced for infants conceived in rainy seasons by young mothers residing in rural, battle-intensive areas, with no gender difference detected. I also provide evidence suggesting the wartime culling of the weakest infants associated with maternal malaria infection.

Keywords: Armed conflict, fetal development, infant mortality, malaria in pregnancy
JEL classification: I15

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