Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1407–1417 | Cite as

Father Early Engagement Behaviors and Infant Low Birth Weight

  • Shawna J. LeeEmail author
  • Diana T. Sanchez
  • Andrew Grogan-Kaylor
  • Joyce Y. Lee
  • Analia Albuja


Objective To examine the association of father early engagement behaviors and infant low birth weight (LBW) among unmarried, urban couples. Methods Participants were from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth-cohort study of urban families. We conducted cross-sectional analyses of data from interviews with unmarried mothers and fathers (N = 2726) that took place at the time of their child’s birth. Early engagement behaviors were based on fathers’ self-report of whether during the pregnancy they gave mothers money to buy things for the baby, helped in other ways like providing transportation to prenatal clinics, and attended the birth. Results Most (68.9%) fathers engaged in all three early engagement behaviors; 22% engaged in 2 behaviors; and 9.1% engaged in 1 or 0 early engagement behaviors. LBW more than doubled when comparing infants of fathers who engaged in all three early engagement behaviors (9.6% predicted probability of LBW) to those fathers who engaged in no early engagement behaviors (over 22% predicted probability of LBW). Conclusion Infant and maternal health may benefit from intervention to encourage positive father engagement during pregnancy.


Perinatal period Father–child relations Infancy Fathers Fathering 



Adjusted odds ratio


Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study


Low birth weight


United States


Variance inflation factor


World Health Organization



The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development through Grants R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421 and a consortium of private foundations ( The authors of this study did not obtain funding for the analyses reported herein.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose. The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical Approval

This study was reviewed by the University of Michigan Institutional Review Board. As secondary data analysis, this study was deemed exempt from oversight.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shawna J. Lee
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Diana T. Sanchez
    • 2
  • Andrew Grogan-Kaylor
    • 1
  • Joyce Y. Lee
    • 1
  • Analia Albuja
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.University of Michigan School of Social WorkAnn ArborUSA

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