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Unemployment during the Great Recession and Large-for-Gestational-Age births

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  • Vanessa M Oddo
  • Jessica C Jones-Smith

Abstract

Background: Several studies have suggested that record high unemployment during the Great Recession was associated with deleterious changes in diet and weight-related health. However, studies have yet to explore whether the Great Recession was also associated with obesity-related health in utero. Methods: We investigated whether increasing county-level unemployment was associated with large-for-gestational-age (LGA) births, using repeated cross-sectional data from California birth records between 2008 and 2011 (n = 1,715,052). LGA was defined as >90th percentile, using the Oken reference. We use the annual 1-year lagged value for county-level unemployment (2007–2010) and limit our analyses to singleton, term births. Linear probability models, with county and year fixed-effects were used to examine the unemployment-LGA association. All models control for county-level foreclosure rates, child gender, and maternal age, parity, education, and race/ethnicity. Results: An increase in county-level unemployment was not statistically significantly associated with the prevalence of LGA (percentage point [PP]: 0.12; 95% CI: -0.02, 0.25). But, over the period of observation, for every one standard deviation increase in unemployment, LGA prevalence increased by 5% and p = 0.08. Conclusions: These results cautiously suggest some deleterious effects of the Great Recession on obesity-related health in utero.

Suggested Citation

  • Vanessa M Oddo & Jessica C Jones-Smith, 2020. "Unemployment during the Great Recession and Large-for-Gestational-Age births," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(5), pages 1-12, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0233734
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0233734
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    References listed on IDEAS

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