Low Birthweight and Subsequent Child Health: Variation by Maternal Education

Melissa Martinson, University of Washington
Kate Choi, University of Western Ontario

Low birthweight (LBW) is associated with a myriad of health and developmental problems in childhood and later life. LBW children also have lasting negative impacts on their human capital and economic life chances. Children born into low socioeconomic status (SES) families are significantly more likely to be born LBW, and these disparities are thought to play a major role in health inequality throughout childhood and later lifecourse. Less well-documented is the variation in the relationship between LBW status and subsequent child health by SES. The demographic literature on the consequences of LBW provides clues on how initial health endowments play out for children born into families of different SES backgrounds, but studies have come to different conclusions. Taking advantage of the large sample from the National Health Interview Survey, we examine whether differences exist in the relationship between LBW and subsequent child and adolescent health by maternal education in the United States. Our preliminary results suggest that in early and middle childhood, maternal education is an important predictor of the magnitude of the relationship between LBW and general health. However, by adolescence, this difference no longer exists.

Presented in Session 1179: Health, Wellbeing, and Morbidity