After completing The Starting Gate, and learning all of the various consequences that go along with being born with a low birth weight, I was confused as to why more decisive measures have not been taken to solve this issue. Professor Conley and his coauthors outline various steps that can be taken in order to alleviate the problem such as considering low birth weight a risk factor throughout childhood and young adulthood instead of just in the first 2 years of life, and re-allocating funds to include benefits for pregnant women in programs such as WIC and Medicaid. However, it doesn’t seem like much has been done in terms of policy changes to address the low birth weight issue in the United States. This is surprising to me since the U.S. spends the most of its GDP on health care (16% as opposed to around 10% for other countries in the G8) when compared to other developed countries, but also has one of the highest rates of low birth weight.
If we can help solve a number of problems that occur later in life by giving an adequate amount of resources to children before their born, it would certainly benefit society as a whole and also make the health care system more efficient. It appears that this issue points out a major flaw in the U.S. health care system in that it does not allocate its funds wisely to improve overall quality of life, but rather emphasizes quick fixes for issues that are already present. This has been illustrated through the rise of specialty care and the decline of primary care in the health system in the United States as well. Maybe increasing awareness of the effects of low birth weight on future health outcomes can motivate health educators and policy makers to put more emphasis on and invest more money in preventive medicine which can both lower health care costs and increase quality of life for everyone regardless of socioeconomic or racial background.