The Impact of Adequate Prenatal Care in a Developing Country: Testing the WHO Recommendations

Gissele Gajate Garrido, University of California, Los Angeles

Deficient birth outcomes entail greater mortality risks, and higher probabilities of poor future health. This study is the first statistical examination of the effect of the World Health Organization’s recommended number of prenatal care visits for developing countries on birth outcomes. This study accounts for the endogenous nature of prenatal care decisions by using an instrumental variables approach based on the accessibility of prenatal services. Using the CLHN Survey I construct a measure of prenatal care which involves both timing and intensity and that shows positive impacts for the combination of both. These results are highly robust to alternative methods to remove the systematic effect of gestation on birth weight but are only significant for urban areas. The lack of impact on rural areas could be due to the inferior quality of prenatal care services received there. This theory is corroborated when controlling directly for care quality.

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Presented in Session 80: Prenatal Care, Early-Life Health and Child Development: Evidence from Developing Countries