Disparities in Birth Weight between Non-Hispanic Blacks and Non-Hispanic Whites: The Effect of Rural Residency

Theresa M. Fedor, University of Pennsylvania
E. Helen Berry, Utah State University
Eric N. Reither, Utah State University

This research assesses the prevalence of low birth weight among non-Hispanic Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites along the rural/urban continuum. Degree of social isolation and lack of social support are proposed mechanisms for explaining the high prevalence of low birth weight observed among Blacks in rural counties. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Child data, the relative odds of low birth weight were estimated for Black and White women via logistic regression. Living in a predominately rural county exacerbates disparities in birth weight outcomes between Blacks and Whites. Logistic regression models also revealed that racial disparities in low birth weight were almost completely accounted for by the presence of the father in the household. Our results highlight the importance of place of residence and family structures for health outcomes among racial minorities.

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Presented in Session 158: Race and Ethnic Disparities in Morbidity and Mortality in the United States