Updated Estimates of the Impact of Prenatal Care on Birthweight Outcomes By Race

Published in: Journal of Human Resources, v. 27, no. 4, Fall 1992, p. 629- 642

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1992

by Richard G. Frank, Donna M. Strobino, David S. Salkever, Catherine A. Jackson

Using data on all counties in the US with populations of 10,000 or more whites or 5,000 or more blacks (based on the 1980 census) for the years 1975-1984, a quasi-structural birthweight production function is estimated. The sample contains a panel of 2,137 study counties for whites and 660 counties for blacks. The analysis focuses on the effects of first trimester initiation of prenatal care, controlling for the use of abortion services, cigarette smoking, birth order, and income. A fixed-effects model is used to control for unmeasured differences in health endowments of women across counties. The results indicate that early first trimester initiation of prenatal care leads to a reduction in low birthweight (LBW) for both blacks and whites, but the expansion of early initiation of prenatal care will make only a small contribution to reducing the risk of LBW. Differences in the use of prenatal care by race explain only a small part of the black-white differences in the fraction of low birthweight births.

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