An unconditional prenatal income supplement is associated with improved birth and early childhood outcomes among First Nations children in Manitoba, Canada: a population-based cohort study

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Enns, Jennifer E
Nickel, Nathan C.
Chartier, Mariette
Chateau, Dan
Campbell, Rhonda
Phillips-Beck, Wanda
Sarkar, Joykrishna
Burland, Elaine
Katz, Alan
Santos, Rob
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Abstract Background In Manitoba, Canada, low-income pregnant women are eligible for the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit, an unconditional income supplement of up to CAD $81/month, during their latter two trimesters. Our objective was to determine the impact of the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit on birth and early childhood outcomes among Manitoba First Nations women and their children. Methods We used administrative data to identify low-income First Nations women who gave birth 2003–2011 (n = 8209), adjusting for differences between women who received (n = 6103) and did not receive the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit (n = 2106) with using propensity score weighting. Using multi-variable regressions, we compared rates of low birth weight, preterm, and small- and large-for-gestational-age births, 5-min Apgar scores, breastfeeding initiation, birth hospitalization length of stay, hospital readmissions, complete vaccination at age one and two, and developmental vulnerability in Kindergarten. Results Women who received the benefit had lower risk of low birth weight (adjusted relative risk [aRR] 0.74; 95% CI 0.62–0.88) and preterm (aRR 0.77; 0.68–0.88) births, and were more likely to initiate breastfeeding (aRR 1.05; 1.01–1.09). Receipt of the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit was also associated with higher rates of child vaccination at age one (aRR 1.10; 1.06–1.14) and two (aRR 1.19; 1.13–1.25), and a lower risk that children would be vulnerable in the developmental domains of language and cognitive development (aRR 0.88; 0.79–0.98) and general knowledge/communication skills (aRR 0.87; 0.77–0.98) in Kindergarten. Conclusions A modest unconditional income supplement of CAD $81/month during pregnancy was associated with improved birth outcomes, increased vaccination rates, and better developmental health outcomes for First Nations children from low-income families.
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2021 Apr 20;21(1):312