Birthweight Productivity of Prenatal Care
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.
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Volume (Year): 65 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
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