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Prenatal development in rural South Africa: Relationship between birth weight and access to fathers and grandparents

Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, Irma T. Elo, Kobus Herbst and Victoria Hosegood
Population Studies
Vol. 64, No. 3 (NOVEMBER 2010), pp. 229-246
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25749159
Page Count: 18
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Prenatal development in rural South Africa: Relationship between birth weight and access to fathers and grandparents
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Abstract

Birth weight is an indicator of prenatal development associated with health in infancy and childhood, and may be affected by the family environment experienced by the mother during pregnancy. Using data from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, we explore the importance of the mother's access to the father and grandparents of the child during pregnancy. Controlling for household socio-economic indicators and maternal characteristics, the survival and residence of the biological father with the mother are positively associated with birth weight. The type of relationship seems to matter: married women have the heaviest newborns, but co-residence with a non-marital partner is also associated with higher birth weight. Access to the maternal grandmother may also be important: women whose mothers are alive have heavier newborns, but no additional benefit is observed from residing together. Co-residence with any grandparent is not associated with birth weight after controlling for the mother's partnership.

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