A new systematic review on the possible influence of income support interventions on some risk factors and health outcomes in childhood, including birth weight and mental health, has been Published in BMC Public Health.

The review examines experimental or quasi-experimental studies conducted in high-income countries and published in databases of peer-reviewed health, economics, social sciences or multidisciplinary literature. All retrieved papers were double screened at title, abstract and full text stage. Relevant data from selected studies were summarized using a narrative synthesis approach. The robustness of the results was assessed by tabulating the impact by health outcomes, type of intervention, and study design.

Overall, 16 relevant papers were identified, including 15 quasi-experimental studies and one randomized control study. The income support interventions examined included: unconditional/conditional cash transfers, income tax credits, and minimum wage policies.

Most of the studies were conducted in the United States and Canada. Overall, the evidence suggests a positive, albeit small, effect of most birth weight policies, which however, according to the few studies that have attempted to extrapolate the results into public health, could result in a substantial reduction in the number of negative outcomes. The studies reviewed disagreed on the relationship between income support interventions and mental health.

For the future, further investigations are hoped to fully exploit the potential of these interventions and understand to what extent their impact on public health can be maximized.

Link to article: The impact of income-support interventions on life course risk factors and health outcomes during childhood: a systematic review in high income countries