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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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    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

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    prenatal care; maternal health; gestational weight gain; smoking; breastfeeding; unhealthy body weight;
    All these keywords.

    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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