NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Dimensions and Determinants of Early Childhood Health and Mortality Among American Slaves

Richard H. Steckel

NBER Working Paper No. 1662
Issued in July 1985
NBER Program(s):   DAE

This paper relies on birth and death lists from plantation records to investigate the causes of low birth weight and poor health of young slave children. The sources of deprivation can be traced to the fetal period. The slave work routine was arduous overall and particularily intense during planting, hoeing, and harvesting. These demands combined with seasonal fluctuations in disease and in the quality of the diet implied that few newborns had escaped stress on intrauterine growth. Starchy food supplements given soon after birth and poor sanitation surrounding feeding provided a poor environment for growth during the first year of life.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1662

Published: "A Dreadful Childhood: The Excess Mortality of American Slaves", Social Science History, vol. 10, no. 4, pp427-465, Winter 1986.

 
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