Metropolitan economic decline and infant mortality due to unintentional injury

Accid Anal Prev. 2008 Nov;40(6):1797-803. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2008.07.011. Epub 2008 Sep 4.


Public health professionals assert that parents could prevent a substantial portion of infant mortality due to unintentional injury (IMUI) by creating a safe environment for the infant. Examples of safe parenting behaviors include attending to a bathing infant, properly securing a child safety seat in a motor vehicle, and removing soft pillows from a crib. The contraction of regional economies, an ambient phenomenon previously reported to affect salutary behaviors, may distract parents from these routine infant monitoring tasks. I test this distraction hypothesis that the monthly incidence of IMUI will vary inversely with the performance of the economy. I retrieve economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and use data from the Birth Cohort File on 2,618,752 infants in all 26 metropolitan areas of California. Results support the hypothesis in that a 1% decline in employed persons coincides with an 8% increase of IMUI in that month. Findings remain robust to control for individual covariates that could confound observed associations. I discuss my findings in relation to the literature concerned with parental distraction, describe other mechanisms through which the economy may affect IMUI, and recommend further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / economics*
  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents / trends*
  • Adult
  • California / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Economics / trends*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Mothers
  • Parenting / trends*
  • Young Adult