Incarceration Exposure During Pregnancy and Infant Health: Moderation by Public Assistance

Alexander Testa, Dylan B. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: To assess the relationship between exposure to incarceration during pregnancy and adverse infant health outcomes: low birth weight (<2500 g), very low birth weight (<1500 g), preterm birth (<37 weeks), and very preterm birth (≤33 weeks), and to evaluate the moderating role of receiving public assistance benefits (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and Medicaid) during pregnancy in this process. Study design: The current study employs data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2009-2017. Logistic regression models were used to assess the association between incarceration of a woman or her partner in the year before birth, the receipt of public assistance during pregnancy, and postpartum infant health. Moderation analyses were conducted by interacting forms of public assistance and incarceration exposure. Results: Exposure to incarceration either personally or vicariously through a partner increased all 4 adverse infant health outcomes. However, moderation analyses demonstrated that public assistance benefits and incarceration have a negative interaction, indicating that public assistance might buffer against the harmful effects of incarceration exposure during pregnancy on infant health. Conclusions: Incarceration exposure during pregnancy poses a significant risk for adverse infant health outcomes. However, the receipt of public assistance benefits including Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and Medicaid may mitigate this risk. Expanded access to public assistance for women exposed to incarceration during pregnancy holds promise to improve infant health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257.e1
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Volume226
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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