By Ylenia Brilli and Brandon J. RestrepoAbstract:
This study demonstrates that rule-of-thumb health treatment decision-making exists when assigning medical care to macrosomic newborns with an extremely high birth weight and estimates the short-run health return to neonatal care for infants at the high end of the birth weight distribution. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that infants born with a birth weight above 5000 grams have a 2 percentage-point higher probability of admission to a neonatal intensive care unit and a 1 percentage-point higher probability of antibiotics receipt, compared to infants with a birth weight below 5000 grams. We also find that being born above the 5000-gram cutoff has a mortality-reducing effect: infants with a birth weight larger than 5000 grams face a 0.15 percentage-point lower risk of mortality in the first week and a 0.20 percentage-point lower risk of mortality in the first month, compared to their counterparts with a birth weight below 5000 grams. We do not find any evidence of changes in health treatments and mortality at macrosomic cutoffs lower than 5000 grams, which is consistent with the idea that such treatment decisions are guided by the higher expected morbidity and mortality risk associated with infants weighing more than 5000 grams.