Effects of Birth Intervals Vary With Level of Development: Evidence From the Utah Population Database, 1870–2016

Kieron Barclay , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Ken R. Smith, University of Utah

A large body of research has examined whether birth intervals influence perinatal outcomes and child health, and most shows that very short and long birth intervals increase the risk of infant mortality, low birth weight, and preterm birth. However, recent research in high-income countries has shown that when comparing siblings, birth intervals do not seem to matter for the risk of poor perinatal outcomes. In this study we use data from the Utah Population Database to examine the effects of birth intervals on infant mortality over the period 1870-2016, and low birth weight and preterm birth over the period 1947-2016. We find that the negative effects of very short birth intervals decreases as the level of development increases, and this is particularly clear for infant mortality. Our study shows that public health conditions and the developmental context are important moderators for the effects of birth intervals on child health outcomes.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1