Anti-poverty Program Has Lasting Benefits

ALBANY, N.Y., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Pregnant U.S. women who participate in the Earned Income Tax Credits anti-poverty program are less likely to have low-birth weight babies, researchers say.

Kate Strully, a professor of sociology and epidemiology at the University at Albany, in New York, says lower birth-weight babies — 5.5 pounds and under — are at higher risk of dying in the first year of life, are less likely to obtain a high-school degree, earn less and have poorer health as adults compared to babies born with a normal birth weight.

Babies born to poor mothers frequently weigh less at birth than those born to middle class and wealthier mothers.

The states-based program requires a person to have some earnings, but the adjusted gross income must be below a threshold that varies by year and family size.

The study authors limited their study participants to unmarried mothers with a high school degree or less and used birth weight data from 1980 to 2002 from birth certificates and income and EITC data from yearly U.S. Census surveys.

The study, scheduled to be published in the American Sociological Review, finds evidence that participation in state EITC is directly linked to higher birth weights — including reducing chances that a mother smoked during pregnancy.

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