Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, Volume 291, Issue 2, pp 287–298 | Cite as

Impact of maternal and paternal preconception health on birth outcomes using prospective couples’ data in Add Health

  • Jennifer L. Moss
  • Kathleen Mullan Harris
Maternal-Fetal Medicine



Retrospective studies of preconception health have demonstrated that parents’ health conditions and behaviors can impact a newborn’s birth outcomes and, subsequently, future health status. This study sought to examine the impact of preconception health, measured prospectively, among both mothers and fathers, on two important birth outcomes: birthweight and gestational age.


Data came from Add Health (the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health), which included interviews with original participants and a subsample of their partners in 2001–02. In 2008, the original respondents again completed an interview for Add Health. For 372 eligible infants born to these couples, birth outcomes (measured in 2008) were regressed on preconception health conditions and behaviors among non-pregnant heterosexual partners (measured in 2001–02).


Mean birthweight was 3,399 g, and mean gestational age was 39 weeks. Birthweight was higher for infants born to mothers with diabetes or high blood pressure, and for mothers who drank alcohol at least once per month, and lower for infants born to fathers with diabetes (p < 0.05). Infant gestational age was marginally lower for infants born to mothers with higher levels of depression (p < 0.10), and lower for infants born to fathers with diabetes and with higher levels of fast food consumption (p < 0.05).


Both maternal and paternal preconception health conditions and behaviors influenced infant birth outcomes. Interventions to promote preconception health should focus on prevention of diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as minimizing consumption of alcohol and fast food.


Preconception health Maternal health Birth outcomes Gestational age Birthweight 



This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Access to the data used in the present analysis is restricted to protect against deductive disclosure.

Ethical standard

All participants provided informed consent before completing questionnaires at each wave of study collection. The University of North Carolina Non-Biomedical Institutional Review Board approved the study procedures and analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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