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Maternal prenatal substance use and behavior problems among children in the U.S.

Sen, Bisakha and Swaminathan, Shailender (2007): Maternal prenatal substance use and behavior problems among children in the U.S. Published in: Journal of Mental Health Policy & Economics , Vol. 10, (2007): pp. 189-206.

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Abstract

Prenatal exposure to smoking and alcohol-use is found to be correlated with various adverse consequences for children, including behavior problems. However, it is not clear whether this relationship is an artifact of underlying confounding factors that impact both the mother’s decision to smoke/drink during pregnancy and subsequent child behavior. We investigate the relationship between prenatal substance use and children’s behavior problems using data from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey (CNLSY). Specifically, we investigate whether prenatal cigarette use and alcohol-use affect children’s behavior problems when they are 4-6 years old, and when they are 8-10 years old. Fixed-effects regression and propensity score methods are used to minimize bias from confounding factors. Our results suggest that the relationship between prenatal smoking and behavior problems are driven by underlying confounding factors, but prenatal alcohol-use may indeed cause behavior problems in children, though there may still be some bias in the results.

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