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Birth Weight, Neonatal Intensive Care Units, and Infant Mortality: Evidence from Macrosomic Babies

Report
Authors Ylenia Brilli
Brandon J. Restrepo
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Economics
Language en
Links hdl.handle.net/2077/53567
Keywords medical intervention, birth weight, mortality
Subject categories Economics

Abstract

Using a regression discontinuity design, this study estimates the effect of extra medical care on the short-run health of babies born at the high end of the birth weight distribution. Consistent with the notion that neonatal treatment decisions are guided by a rule of thumb when assigning medical care to macrosomic newborns, we find evidence of a large discontinuous jump in the likelihood of being admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as the 5000-gram cutoff is crossed from below. The resulting plausibly exogenous variation in medical care in the vicinity of the 5000-gram cutoff identifies the health effect of additional medical care. Parametric and non-parametric regressions reveal that being born above the 5000-gram cutoff increases the probability of NICU admission by about 30% and decreases the risk of infant mortality by about 130% relative to sample means below the 5000-gram cutoff. The importance of the substantial health gains associated with extra medical care in the macrosomic patient population is likely to grow over time since maternal obesity, a major risk factor for macrosomia, is on the rise.

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