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Can Caesarean section improve child and maternal health? The case of breech babies

Vibeke Jensen () and Miriam Wüst ()

Journal of Health Economics, 2015, vol. 39, issue C, 289-302

Abstract: This paper examines the health effects of Caesarean section (CS) for children and their mothers. We use exogenous variation in the probability of CS in a fuzzy regression discontinuity design. Using administrative Danish data, we exploit an information shock for obstetricians that sharply altered CS rates for breech babies. We find that CS decreases the child's probability of having a low APGAR score and the number of family doctor visits in the first year of life. We find no significant effects for severe neonatal morbidity or hospitalizations. While mothers are hospitalized longer after birth, we find no effects of CS for maternal post-birth complications or infections. Although the change in mode of delivery for the marginal breech babies increases direct costs, the health benefits show that CS is the safest option for these children.

Keywords: Caesarean section; Child health; Regression discontinuity design; Procedure use; Maternal health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I11 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2014.07.004

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Journal of Health Economics is currently edited by J. P. Newhouse, A. J. Culyer, R. Frank, K. Claxton and T. McGuire

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