Investigating the Determinants of Adverse Birth Outcomes Open Access
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This study sought to understand the determinants of low birth weight (LBW) and preterm birth (PTB), specifically across racial, ethnic and age groups. The research questions of this study were: (1) What is the relationship between age and adverse birth outcomes? (2) Is poor maternal health associated with higher rates of LBW and PTB? (3) Are these adverse birth outcomes (LBW and PTB) more associated with non-Hispanic black mothers than mothers of other races? The first hypothesis for this study is that rates of LBW and PTB will be highest among the youngest and oldest maternal age groups. The second hypothesis is that having a health condition prior to pregnancy will have a greater association with LBW and PTB than having a health condition only during pregnancy. The third and final hypothesis of this study is that the odds of having a low birth weight or preterm infant will be greater for non-Hispanic black women than the odds for women of other races.The data used are from the Natality Data File, 2013 (United States), and the final analytic sample contained 3,897,884 cases of women who gave birth in 2013. Binary logistic regressions were performed to model low birth weight and preterm birth. Results revealed that rates of LBW and PTB were highest among older mothers of advanced and very advanced maternal age when compared to other maternal age groups. Another statistically significant finding was that gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension (respectively) increase the likelihood of having a LBW infant. For having a PTB, diabetes prior to pregnancy is a significant determinant of preterm birth when compared to other conditions before or during pregnancy. Specific policy implications of this research may include tailored attention to risk factors of preterm birth, including health conditions during pregnancy, receiving welfare benefits, and advanced maternal age.
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