Every Breath You Take: The Effect of Postpartum Maternal Smoking on Childhood Asthma
Recent studies in the public health literature and a June 2006 Surgeon General's report have cited a link between exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and childhood asthma. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this paper explores the sensitivity of this relationship to unobserved heterogeneity. Cross-section estimates show consistent evidence of a positive relationship between postpartum maternal smoking and childhood asthma, particularly among populations at high risk for asthma: racial minorities and children of mothers with low educational attainment. Importantly, this relationship persists after controlling for fixed individual-level unobservables. Difference-in-difference estimates show that the onset of maternal smoking is associated with a 4 to 7 percentage-point increase in childhood asthma rates. The results of several falsification tests—which examine the effect of maternal smoking on other health outcomes not expected to be causally affected by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke—lend credibility to the fixed effects identification strategy.
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Volume (Year): 75 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
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