Illicit Drug Use and Health: Analysis and Projections of New York City Birth Outcomes Using a Kalman Filter Model
Using monthly data from New York City that span the years 19781990 we investigate the relationship between the incidence of drug use during pregnancy and the rate of low birth weight Estimation results indicate that the increase in pregnancies complicated by drug use accounts for 71 percent of the increase in the rate of Black low birth weight between 1983-84 and 1990. If the use of drugs among Black pregnant women is reduced to its 1978 level, this would reduce the number of Black low birth weight babies by 8% (40 births per month) with respect to the level that would have been observed in the absence of any intervention. This implies an annual $5.1 to $6.8 million (in 1990 dollars) savings in terms of avoided initial hospitalization and special education costs. We could not find a significant relationship between drug use and the rate of low birth weight for whites.