Evaluating the relationship between conditional cash transfer programme on preterm births: a retrospective longitudinal study using the 100 million Brazilian cohort

Preterm births increase mortality and morbidity during childhood and later life, which is closely associated with poverty and the quality of prenatal care. Therefore, income redistribution and poverty reduction initiatives may be valuable in preventing this outcome. We assessed whether receipt of the Brazilian conditional cash transfer programme - Bolsa Familia Programme, the largest in the world - reduces the occurrence of preterm births, including their severity categories, and explored how this association differs according to prenatal care and the quality of Bolsa Familia Programme management. 1,031,053 infants were analyzed; 65.9% of the mothers were beneficiaries. Bolsa Familia Programme was not associated with all sets of preterm births, moderate-to-late, and severe preterm births, but was associated with a reduction in extreme preterm births (weighted OR: 0.69; 95%CI: 0.63-0.76). This reduction can also be observed among mothers receiving adequate prenatal care (weighted OR: 0.66; 95%CI: 0.59-0.74) and living in better Bolsa Familia management municipalities (weighted OR: 0.56; 95%CI: 0.43-0.74). An income transfer programme for pregnant women of low-socioeconomic status, conditional to attending prenatal care appointments, has been associated with a reduction in extremely preterm births. These programmes could be essential in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.