From infant to mother: Early disease environment and future maternal health

Douglas Almond, Janet Currie, Mariesa Herrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the connections between a woman's early life disease environment and her future health, socioeconomic status, and the health of her children. We exploit U.S. birth records, which can be linked to the post-neonatal mortality rates in the mother's state of birth and provide information on the outcomes of the mother and her infant. We find that exposure to disease in early childhood significantly increases the incidence of diabetes and is associated with worse socioeconomic status and maternal behaviors. We also find evidence of intergenerational transmission of maternal health shocks: among whites, higher exposure increases the probability of low birth weight infants. However, among blacks, higher maternal exposure reduces the incidence of low birth weight, possibly reflecting selection effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-483
Number of pages9
JournalLabour Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Disease
  • Early environment
  • Infant health
  • Maternal health
  • Prenatal
  • Socioeconomic status


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