CU Grad student Maya Rossin-Slater Studies the Effects of Hurricanes and Storms on Pregnancies


In a recently released NBER working paper titled, “Weathering the Storm: Hurricanes and Birth Outcomes,” Maya Rossin-Slater, an fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Economics, along with Professor Janet Currie of Princeton University, analyzes the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms in Texas from 1996 to 2008 on birth outcomes. The two of them have found that storm-related stress has a particular effect on labor and delivery as well as abnormal conditions that can be traced to poor outcomes later in life.

Rossin-Slater and Currie argue that many of the previous studies done on the subject have not accounted enough for variables such as migration by the mother because of the storm. Additionally, they argue that the method of calculating the pregnancy period in which a mother is exposed to the hurricane can cause bias in those findings. Instead of counting backwards from the point of birth, they propose counting forward from point of conception. While these previous studies show the stress largely impacting birth weight and prematurity, Rossin-Slater and Currie find more significant impact manifested in labor and delivery problems and abnormal conditions such as meconium aspiration and breathing problems which indicate fetal stress. They also find that women directly in the path of the hurricanes were more likely to suffer these effects.

Recently, The Atlantic online mentioned the paper’s findings in an article bringing attention to expecting parents in the path of Hurricane Sandy.