Maternal Bed Rest and Infant Health
Melanie Guldi, University of Central Florida
Christine Durrance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Bed rest during pregnancy is frequently prescribed to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage and premature birth. While prior literature suggests that almost 20 percent of pregnant women receive bed rest recommendations, recent findings tilt toward a negative or zero relationship between bed rest and infant health. This is not surprising given the difficulty of navigating a crucial threat to identification: conditions leading to bed rest recommendations are correlated with the infant health outcomes. Naïve regressions would likely find a negative relationship. We deal with this threat using a large number of important observables in conjunction with OLS and matching methods. Using the PRAMS data over the period 2000-2008, while we find a positive relationship between bed rest and low birth weight (<2500g) or prematurity (<37 weeks), we present evidence that bed rest decreases the incidence of very low birth weight (<1500g) or very premature (<33 weeks) outcomes.