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The Earlier and the More, the Healthier? The Effects of Prenatal Care Utilization on Maternal Health and Health Behaviors

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  • Ji Yan

Abstract

While many economic studies have explored the role of prenatal care in infant health production, the literature is quite sporadic about the effects of prenatal care on the mother. This research contributes to this understudied but important area using a unique large dataset of sibling newborns. We apply empirical models with mother fixed effects to find robust evidence that poor prenatal care utilization due to late onset of care, low frequency of care visits, or combinations of the two significantly increases the risks of maternal inadequate gestational weight gain, prenatal smoking, premature rupture of membranes, precipitous labor, no breastfeeding, postnatal underweight, and postpartum smoking. The magnitude of the estimates relative to the respective sample means of the outcome variables ranges from 3 to 33 percent. The results highlight the importance of receiving timely and sufficient prenatal care in improving maternal health and health behaviors during pregnancy as well as after childbirth. Moreover, we also find there is a high prevalence of underuse of prenatal care among pregnant women, which suggests potentially large scope for subsequent policy intervention. Key Words: Prenatal Care; Maternal Health; Gestational Weight Gain; Smoking; Breastfeeding; Unhealthy Body Weight

Suggested Citation

  • Ji Yan, 2015. "The Earlier and the More, the Healthier? The Effects of Prenatal Care Utilization on Maternal Health and Health Behaviors," Working Papers 15-08, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:15-08
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    File URL: http://econ.appstate.edu/RePEc/pdf/wp1508.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2013. "Fetal Origins and Parental Responses," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 37-56, May.
    2. Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Dhaval Dave, 2009. "Infant health production functions: what a difference the data make," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(7), pages 761-782.
    3. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    4. Andrea Kutinova & Karen Smith Conway, 2008. "What about Mom? The Forgotten Beneficiary of the Medicaid Expansions," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 1070-1104, April.
    5. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-1296, December.
    6. Phelps, Charles E., 2000. "Information diffusion and best practice adoption," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 223-264 Elsevier.
    7. 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.
    8. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2010. "Effects of prenatal care on maternal postpartum behaviors," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 171-197, June.
    9. Evans, William N. & Lien, Diana S., 2005. "The benefits of prenatal care: evidence from the PAT bus strike," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 207-239.
    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:9:1414-1420_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sam Watson’s journal round-up for 4th July 2016
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2016-07-04 16:00:52

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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