Birth Outcomes Research

Adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth (<37 weeks gestation), low birth weight (<2,500 grams), small-for-gestational age (birth weight less than the 10th percentile for a given gestational age), and infant mortality (death before age 1) are a significant public health problem for women in the US and across the country. Infants born preterm or at a low birth weight are more likely to experience short- and long-term deficits in growth and development with implications for their health as they age into adulthood. Both locally and nationally, non-Hispanic Black women and low-income women are more likely to experience an adverse birth outcome relative to non-Hispanic White women and higher-income women. Research has shown that the entrenched and persistent racial inequities in rates of adverse birth outcomes remain even after controlling for differences between women such as smoking and alcohol use, educational attainment, or receipt of prenatal care. At MAC, our birth outcomes research aims to move beyond the individual, to identify aspects of the neighborhoods and communities in which women live that influence the likelihood they will experience an adverse birth outcome. For example, our work has explored how pregnant women living in neighborhoods characterized by high rates of violent crime and domestic violence, or in cities with marked racial and socioeconomic residential segregation may be more likely to delivery preterm, have a low birth weight infant, or experience the loss of an child before its first birthday.