The Consequences and Costs of Maternal Substance Abuse in New York City

Theodore Joyce, Andrew D. Racine, Naci Mocan

NBER Working Paper No. 3987 (Also Reprint No. r1775)
Issued in February 1992
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

We use a pooled time-series cross-section of live births in New York City between 1980 and 1989 to investigate the dramatic rise in low birthweight, especially among Blacks, that occurred in the mid 1980s. After controlling for other risk factors, we estimate that the number of excess low birthweight births attributable to illicit substance abuse over this period ranged from approximately 1,900 to 3,800 resulting in excess neonatal admission costs of between $22 and $53 million. We conclude that illicit substance use was a major contributory factor in rapid rise of low birthweight among Blacks in New York City in the latter part of the 1980s. The impact of prenatal illicit substance use on Whites and Hispanics is less conclusive.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3987

Published: Journal of Health Economics, Vol. 11, pp. 297-314 (1992).

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