Do Grandmothers Improve Child Health at Birth?

Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, University of Pennsylvania

Are children whose mothers have access to grandparental help during pregnancy born bigger and healthier? Grandparents can be an important source of assistance during the prenatal and perinatal period, for example by providing additional food to the expectant mother, helping her travel to the clinic for antenatal care, relieving her of some of her work, monitoring the pregnancy for complications, and helping in delivery emergencies. While several papers have attempted to test the effect of grandparental presence on child health, they have not looked for evidence of grandparental effects prior to birth. This paper studies the possible benefits of grandparents for health at birth using a demographic surveillance survey from rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. I assess child health at birth in terms of birthweight, a measure of development throughout gestation, and Apgar score, a measure of child wellbeing at the end of the pregnancy and during birth.

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Presented in Session 158: Early Health Influences and Impacts