Monday, February 6, 2012

Doing What We Can

            Dalton Conley, Kate Strully, and Neil Bennett shed much need light on the topic of low birth weight (LBW) in their book The starting gate: Birth Weight and Life Chances.  The correlation between low birth weight and later success in many avenues of life is one that is not really talked about in the general public. However after reading The Starting Gate: Birth Weight and Life Chances, I believe that the reason low birth weight is not really talked about is because of the fact that we really do not know exactly what cause LBW and its negative correlations.  Lets face it, we live in a society where unless we know direct causation, we tend not to care too much about things that seem “out of our control”.  Conley, Strully, and Bennett bring up, towards the end of the book, what I believe to the most important take away from the book: prevention.
            They mention different preventive social policy programs, where “...[their] suggestions about biosocial interaction may be applied.” (126).  These programs include Medicaid, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which go along with the Barker hypothesis we spoke about in lecture. Even though we may not know the exact causation, we can all agree on the fact that better prenatal care along with better nutrition and health care for these at risk babies can do nothing but help combat low birth weight and its negative correlations. We have programs in place, we just need to make the programs more accessible and eliminate the negative stigma associated with them. To me it seems that the cutoff for receiving help from these programs is often too low, and could be raised to optimize their benefits. I also believe that more education about the seriousness of low birth weight, along with the higher eligibility to receive aid, could help alleviate the stigma associated with accepting the help.  It is through these easy steps that we can help reduce LBW, even if not eliminating it, until we actually have a firmer understanding of the cause, because every child deserves to have a fair chance at the starting gate of life. 

1 comment:

  1. You bring up an important point regarding decreasing the negative stigmas surrounding the preventive social policy programs. A major issue associated with such programs is that the public generally holds disapproving attitudes towards funding institutions that, due to prevailing stereotypes, they believe are corrupted by fraud and abuse. It is often said that these social programs simply result in a cycle of dependency and should therefore not be funded. As a result, these misconceptions often lead to budget cuts, hurting the many people who truly need support. This stigma is one that will be very difficult to overcome, but I agree with your suggestion that providing the public with more information will help to lessen the stigma. We also need more advocates to influence government lawmakers to increase their support of these programs that could reduce the rates of LBW children.