Prenatal Drug Use and the Production of Infant Health

Kelly Noonan, Rider University and National Bureau of Economic Research
Nancy E. Reichman, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Hope Corman, Rider University
Dhaval Dave, Bentley College

The purpose of our study is to examine the effect of maternal illegal drug use on one important birth outcome: birth weight. We improve on previous studies in two ways. First, we use a large multi-site data set that includes self-reports of drug use during pregnancy, medical records during pregnancy and delivery, extensive demographic information on the mother and the father, and information about the city where the mother resides. Second, we adopt a strategy to try to reduce the potential confounding effects of unobserved factors. We use survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study that has been linked to information from the respondents’ medical records and city-level data on drug prices, arrest rates for drug-related offenses, availability of prenatal services, and labor market characteristics. We estimate our equations using the cases (approximately 2100) in 12 cities in 9 states for which medical records data are available.

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Presented in Session 101: Reproductive Health in Developed Countries