Event Title

Assessing Prenatal Depression and Childhood Overweight

Presenter Information

Kyle Fluegge

Start Date

15-10-2009 4:00 PM

End Date

15-10-2009 5:15 PM

Description

Background: The prenatal environment is recognized as an important part of fetal development with serious implications for health in to the future. Epidemiological evidence suggests there is a deleterious biological link between prenatal depression and birth weight via the HPA axis, although results have been mixed. Little evidence exists on behavioral aspects determining prenatal depression that explain an association with birth weight.

Study Question: Do three factors - child wantedness, utility change theory, and endogeneity of expected child health - explain prenatal depression and its association on child birth weight?

Methods: Data were obtained from the NLSY 1979. 2448 women aged 14-37 who were pregnant (1380 women) or had recently given birth were sampled from the years when depression scores were available (1979-1994). Scores were normalized to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression 1992 scale. Child wantedness measures were collected to distinguish between possible differences in women who were pregnant versus those who had given birth before surveyed. Utility change theory measures the stable preferences assumption that inconsistencies between risky behaviors in a woman's youth (sex, drinking) and her preference for risky behaviors in pregnancy (smoking, later prenatal care) might predict depression. These measures are included in a two-stage least squares model that tests the impact of prenatal depression on birth weight using the sub-sample of women surveyed when pregnant.

Results: The endogeneity of expected birth weight on prenatal depression is negative and marginally significant (p<.07) when accounting for two different preference reversals of pregnancy behaviors as well as time between these reversals. Both preference reversals are related to prenatal depression scores (p<.12), although have opposite effects. Women with a greater wantedness also have a lower prenatal depression score. In both preference reversals with n>600, prenatal depression has an unexpectedly positive, small and significant (p<.05) impact on birth weight.

Conclusion: When modeling prenatal depression, child wantedness, preference reversals, and the endogeneity of expected child birth weight significantly impact prenatal depression, which positively affects birth weight. Consideration of a woman's experiences in youth as well as her discounting of health in the future can significantly affect birth outcomes.

Public Health Implications: Because expected child health is endogenous to prenatal depression, the impact of the fetal origins hypothesis in 1995 on birth weight needs to be further investigated.

Kyle Fluegge is a Ph.D. Student in Agricultural, Development, and Environmental Economics at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA. His research interests in health economics intersect a great deal with epidemiology and public health. He earned a BA in economics from the University of Michigan in 2007 and an MA in 2008 in economics at the Ohio State University.

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Oct 15th, 4:00 PM Oct 15th, 5:15 PM

Assessing Prenatal Depression and Childhood Overweight

Background: The prenatal environment is recognized as an important part of fetal development with serious implications for health in to the future. Epidemiological evidence suggests there is a deleterious biological link between prenatal depression and birth weight via the HPA axis, although results have been mixed. Little evidence exists on behavioral aspects determining prenatal depression that explain an association with birth weight.

Study Question: Do three factors - child wantedness, utility change theory, and endogeneity of expected child health - explain prenatal depression and its association on child birth weight?

Methods: Data were obtained from the NLSY 1979. 2448 women aged 14-37 who were pregnant (1380 women) or had recently given birth were sampled from the years when depression scores were available (1979-1994). Scores were normalized to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression 1992 scale. Child wantedness measures were collected to distinguish between possible differences in women who were pregnant versus those who had given birth before surveyed. Utility change theory measures the stable preferences assumption that inconsistencies between risky behaviors in a woman's youth (sex, drinking) and her preference for risky behaviors in pregnancy (smoking, later prenatal care) might predict depression. These measures are included in a two-stage least squares model that tests the impact of prenatal depression on birth weight using the sub-sample of women surveyed when pregnant.

Results: The endogeneity of expected birth weight on prenatal depression is negative and marginally significant (p<.07) when accounting for two different preference reversals of pregnancy behaviors as well as time between these reversals. Both preference reversals are related to prenatal depression scores (p<.12), although have opposite effects. Women with a greater wantedness also have a lower prenatal depression score. In both preference reversals with n>600, prenatal depression has an unexpectedly positive, small and significant (p<.05) impact on birth weight.

Conclusion: When modeling prenatal depression, child wantedness, preference reversals, and the endogeneity of expected child birth weight significantly impact prenatal depression, which positively affects birth weight. Consideration of a woman's experiences in youth as well as her discounting of health in the future can significantly affect birth outcomes.

Public Health Implications: Because expected child health is endogenous to prenatal depression, the impact of the fetal origins hypothesis in 1995 on birth weight needs to be further investigated.

Kyle Fluegge is a Ph.D. Student in Agricultural, Development, and Environmental Economics at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA. His research interests in health economics intersect a great deal with epidemiology and public health. He earned a BA in economics from the University of Michigan in 2007 and an MA in 2008 in economics at the Ohio State University.