An Unconditional Prenatal Income Supplement Reduces Population Inequities In Birth Outcomes
Author: Marni Brownell, Nathan C. Nickel, Mariette Chartier, Jennifer E. Enns, Dan Chateau, Joykrishna Sarkar, Elaine Burland, Douglas P. Jutte, Carole Taylor, Alan Katz
The Commission on Social Determinants of Health, sponsored by the World Health Organization, has identified measuring health inequities and evaluating interventions to reduce them as important priorities. We examined whether an unconditional prenatal income supplement for low-income women was associated with reduced population-level inequities in birth outcomes. We identified all mother-newborn pairs from the period 2003–10 in Manitoba, Canada, and divided them into the following three groups: low income exposed (received the supplement); low income unexposed (did not receive the supplement); and not low income unexposed (ineligible for the supplement). We measured inequities in low-birthweight births, preterm births, and breast-feeding initiation among these groups. The findings indicated that the socioeconomic gap in birth outcomes between low-income and other women was significantly smaller when the low-income women received the income supplement than when they did not. The prenatal income supplement may be an important driver in attaining population-level equity in birth outcomes; its success could inform strategies seeking to improve maternal and child health.