Race/ethnicity, Timing Of Pregnancy Recognition And Women’s Risk Of Delivering A Low Birth Weight Infant

Open Access
Author:
Campbell, Angela Gale
Graduate Program:
Sociology
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
October 12, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Michelle Lynn Frisco, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • low birth weight
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • pregnancy
  • timing
Abstract:
This paper examines four distinct research questions about the relationships between race/ethnicity, pregnancy recognition, and low birth weight. First, do Black women recognize their pregnancies later than White women? Second, is the standard measure of late pregnancy recognition an appropriate predictor of low birth weight risk? Third, does late pregnancy recognition partially mediate the established association between race and low birth weight? Finally, does late pregnancy recognition amplify Black women’s risk of bearing a low birth weight infant? To investigate these research questions, data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort are analyzed (N=4400) using weighted ordinary least square (OLS) and logistic regression models. Results indicate that Black women are significantly more likely than White women to recognize their pregnancies late. In addition, the standard measure of late pregnancy recognition that dichotomizes recognition into pregnancies recognized at six weeks and earlier or seven and later is not optimal in models predicting low birth weight risk. Instead these findings appear to be driven by women who recognize pregnancy much later—after the 12th week of gestation. In unadjusted models, recognition of pregnancy in the 12th week or later is significantly associated with an increase in low birth weight risk, and White women who recognize their pregnancies this late have a higher risk of low birth weight than Black women recognizing their pregnancies in the same time frame. When statistical models are adjusted for confounders, these associations were no longer significant. This suggests that timing of pregnancy recognition is not a significant predictor of low birth weight risk net of women’s background characteristics and it does not partially explain why Black women have a higher risk of bearing a low birth weight infant, despite the fact that Black women do recognize their pregnancies later than White women. Intervention efforts may be warranted to help Black women recognize their pregnancies earlier so that they can seek prenatal care earlier, but this is unlikely to change Black women’s risk of low birth weight.