Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 197-211

First online:

Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status in Relation to Preterm Birth in a U.S. Cohort of Black Women

  • Ghasi S. PhillipsAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • , Lauren A. WiseAffiliated withSlone Epidemiology Center, Boston University
  • , Janet W. Rich-EdwardsAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthConnors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • , Meir J. StampferAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthDepartment of Medicine, Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • , Lynn RosenbergAffiliated withSlone Epidemiology Center, Boston University Email author 

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This study examines the association between neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) and preterm birth among U.S. Black women. A composite variable for neighborhood SES, derived from 7 U.S. Census Bureau indicators, was assessed in relation to self-reported preterm birth (505 spontaneous and 452 medically indicated) among 6,390 women in the Black Women’s Health Study who delivered singleton births during 1995–2003. The odds ratio (OR) for preterm birth, comparing the lowest (most deprived) to the highest (least deprived) quartiles of neighborhood SES, was 0.98 (95 % CI, 0.80, 1.20) after adjustment for individual-level characteristics. Low neighborhood SES was not associated with spontaneous or medically indicated preterm birth overall or within strata of maternal age, education, or geographic region. The only significant finding was higher odds of medically indicated preterm birth associated with low neighborhood SES among unmarried women. Low neighborhood SES was not materially associated with preterm birth in this study of U.S. Black women.


African Americans Premature birth Residence characteristics Social class