Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics

No 705: Birth Weight,Neonatal Intensive Care Units,and Infant Mortality: Evidence from Macrosomic Babies

Ylenia Brilli () and Brandon J. Restrepo ()
Additional contact information
Ylenia Brilli: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Brandon J. Restrepo: Economic Research Service, U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA)

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.

Keywords: medical intervention; birthweight; mortality.

JEL-codes: I12; I14

29 pages, September 2017

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