Monday, February 6, 2012

Solving the Problem

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.  


  1. Your argument is very similar to Jordan's and I agree with both of you that greater measures need to be taken to address this issue. Even though we do not know the direct cause for low birth weights, we do know certain factors that may contribute to it such as nutrition and pre-natal care. You make an interesting and alarming point when you state how the US spends 16% of its GDP on health care. It then raises the question as it what exactly this money is being spent on. Low birth weight children are more likely to be placed in special education, be held back a year in school, and/or have a learning disability (Conley 108). Efforts need to be taken to address low birth weights in order to prevent these lasting long term consequences.

  2. I agree Angela, and I'm also seriously confused as to what exactly we're spending all this money on. The way we look at health care in the US obviously creates an enormous gap between those who have the money to get quality care and those who don't, and this just perpetuates a cycle of inequality in general, as has been seen in the example of low birth weight. I think that we actually do have the resources to fix the problem, but not enough people care about the issue enough to be proactive and vote for policies that can solve it. Americans are more worried about whether they'll be able to choose which doctor they want or which hospital they can go to to receive the specific care they think they need, but fail to recognize that there are much more serious problems that need to be solved that may limit individual choices, but would ultimately lead to a better system overall.