Something in the Water: Contaminated Drinking Water and Infant Health
30 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2013 Last revised: 31 Jul 2021
Date Written: March 2013
This paper provides estimates of the effects of in utero exposure to contaminated drinking water on fetal health. We examine the universe of birth records and drinking water testing results for the state of New Jersey from 1997 to 2007. Our data enable us to compare outcomes across siblings who were potentially exposed to differing levels of harmful contaminants from drinking water while in utero. We find small effects of drinking water contamination on all children, but large and statistically significant effects on birth weight and gestation of infants born to less educated mothers. We also show that those mothers who were most affected by contaminants were the least likely to move between births in response to contamination.
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