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Maternal Depression and the Production of Infant Health

Karen Smith Conway and Lisa DeFelice Kennedy
Southern Economic Journal
Vol. 71, No. 2 (Oct., 2004), pp. 260-286
DOI: 10.2307/4135291
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4135291
Page Count: 27
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Maternal Depression and the Production of Infant Health
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Abstract

Depression is most prevalent among women of childbearing age and among low-income women, and the medical literature shows it to have adverse effects on infant health. Yet maternal depression has been overlooked in economic studies of infant health production. This research incorporates maternal depressive symptoms into a standard infant health production model and estimates both structural and reduced-form birth weight equations using samples of non-Hispanic white and black women from the National Maternal and Infant Health Survey. A byproduct of this research is an empirical investigation into factors associated with maternal depressive symptoms. All results show that depressive symptoms have a negative effect on birth weight and that they may operate through several channels such as smoking and prenatal care.

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