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Birthweight Productivity of Prenatal Care


  • Geoffrey Warner


The ability of prenatal care to produce birthweight, through faster fetal growth, is examined within the Rosenzweig and Schultz framework. Prenatal care, measured by the time delay in initiating care and the number of care visits, adjusted for gestation, was specified in various functional forms, permitting an examination of its marginal returns. Maternal anthropometric characteristics, such as height and prepregnancy weight, were included as measures of limits on fetal growth. Race-specific regressions were performed. Prenatal care visits, but not delays, were found to significantly increase the rate of fetal growth for black mothers. Prenatal care did not significantly increase the rate of fetal growth for white mothers. Multicollinearity in the complex specifications and weak identification of the birthweight equation prevent strong conclusions as to whether the marginal returns to prenatal care are constant, decreasing, or increasing. Maternal anthropometrics were found to greatly increase the rate of fetal growth for all mothers, though more so for white than black mothers. Prenatal care appears to be but a modest tool in reducing the incidence of low birthweight due to retarded fetal growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Warner, 1998. "Birthweight Productivity of Prenatal Care," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(1), pages 42-63, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:65:1:y:1998:p:42-63

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    Cited by:

    1. Ana I. Balsa & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "The Effectiveness of Prenatal Care in a Low Income Population: A Panel Data Approach," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1204, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    2. Conway, Karen Smith & Deb, Partha, 2005. "Is prenatal care really ineffective? Or, is the 'devil' in the distribution?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 489-513, May.
    3. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," NBER Working Papers 24131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sonchak, Lyudmyla, 2015. "Medicaid reimbursement, prenatal care and infant health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 10-24.
    5. Wehby, George L. & Castilla, Eduardo E. & Lopez-Camelo, Jorge, 2010. "The impact of altitude on infant health in South America," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 197-211, July.
    6. George L. Wehby & Jeffrey C. Murray & Eduardo E. Castilla & Jorge S. Lopez-Camelo & Robert L. Ohsfeldt, 2009. "Quantile effects of prenatal care utilization on birth weight in Argentina," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1307-1321.
    7. Nastis, Stefanos A. & Crocker, Thomas D., 2012. "Valuing mother and child health: The intrauterine environment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 318-328.
    8. Ana Inés Balsa & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "¿Son los cuidados prenatales efectivos? Un enfoque con datos individuales de panel," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0612, Department of Economics - dECON.
    9. Karen Smith Conway & Andrea Kutinova, 2006. "Maternal health: does prenatal care make a difference?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 461-488.
    10. Wehby, George L. & Murray, Jeffrey C. & Castilla, Eduardo E. & Lopez-Camelo, Jorge S. & Ohsfeldt, Robert L., 2009. "Prenatal care demand and its effects on birth outcomes by birth defect status in Argentina," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 84-95, March.

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