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The Postponement of Motherhood and its Child Health Consequences: Birth Weight and Weight Gain during the First Year of Life

  • Hideko Matsuo
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    The postponement of motherhood is one of the most important trends in fertility behaviour in the last few decades. The consequences of late motherhood for child health are not well understood, however. One reason is that in the study of child health, the focus is either on birth (e.g., risk factors for low birth weight), or on child health after birth (e.g., child health consequences of low birth weight). The comprehensive view to child health underlying this paper is that both sides are closely linked. Those perinatal, behavioural and socio-demographic factors which affect birth weight also affect child health after birth. This paper addresses both issues together on the basis of two sets of Belgian regional data. The focus is on the relation between maternal age on the one hand, and birth weight and weight gain after birth (the latter conceptualised in an innovative way) as proxies of child health on the other hand. Our results confirm the importance of high maternal age as a risk factor for low birth weight. They also point to a long-term, though not necessarily permanent, effect of high maternal age on child health after birth for low birth weight children. These results differ from those of studies using other proxies for child health after birth such as physical and cognitive development, which point to permanent negative health effects of low birth weight, and even raise the question of negative intergenerational fertility effects.

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    File URL: http://epub.oeaw.ac.at/0xc1aa500d_0x00144e24
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    Article provided by Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna in its journal Vienna Yearbook of Population Research.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 91-114

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    Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:91-114
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/

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    1. Tomas Kögel, 2001. "Did the association between fertility and female employment within OECD countries really change its sign?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-034, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Jason Boardman & Daniel Powers & Yolanda Padilla & Robert Hummer, 2002. "Low birth weight, social factors, and developmental outcomes among children in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 353-368, May.
    3. Jeffrey Kallan, 1993. "Race, intervening variables, and two components of low birth weight," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 489-506, August.
    4. Kiernan, Kathleen & Pickett, Kate E., 2006. "Marital status disparities in maternal smoking during pregnancy, breastfeeding and maternal depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 335-346, July.
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