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Heflin paper on childhood injuries and food stamp benefits published in BMC Pediatrichealt

Aug 4, 2021

Childhood injuries and food stamp benefits: an examination of administrative data in one US state

Colleen M. Heflin, Irma Arteaga, Jean Felix Ndashimye & Matthew P. Rabbitt

BMC Pediatrics, September 2020

Colleen Heflin

Colleen Heflin


Currently in the United States, childhood injuries are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity, resulting in an estimated 9.2 million emergency department visits and $17 billion annually in medical costs. For preschoolers, it is also the leading cause of disability.


The authors use linked administrative data for SNAP and Medicaid in Missouri from January 2010 to December 2013 to explore monthly patterns in the association between SNAP receipt and ER claims due to childhood injury for children age 0–5 and to examine if these patterns are sensitive to the timing of SNAP benefits. We chose the state of Missouri because unlike most states that disburse SNAP benefits within the first 10 days of the calendar month, Missouri pays SNAP benefits between the first twenty-two days of the month, based on the recipient’s birthdate and last name.


SNAP benefits received later in the calendar month are associated with reductions in ER claims for childhood injuries. Furthermore, the final week in the SNAP benefit month is associated with an increase in ER claims for childhood injuries.


In terms of public policy, our results suggest that having SNAP disbursement later in the month may have benefits for households.