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Maternal Birthplace is Associated with Low Birth Weight Within Racial/Ethnic Groups


Introduction While disparities in low birth weight (LBW) incidence by racial/ethnic group are well known, differences in LBW incidence by maternal birthplace within racial/ethnic groups, and particularly, differences after adjustment for pregnancy complications, are less clear. Methods We conducted a population-based study of LBW using 113,760 singleton, live birth records from King County, Washington (2008–2012), a region in the Pacific Northwest with a large immigrant population. Study participants were Asian, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI), and non-Hispanic white women. Using multivariable logistic regression models, we calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to estimate relative risk of LBW (<2500 g) related to maternal race/ethnicity and birthplace (defined by the Millennium Development Goals Regional Groupings). Results Compared with non-Hispanic white women, non-Hispanic black, Asian Indian, Filipino, Japanese, and Vietnamese women had 1.57–2.23-fold higher, statistically significant, risk of having a LBW infant, and NHOPI and Mexican women had 1.30–1.33-fold, statistically significant, higher risk. LBW risk was lower for Asian women from Eastern Asia (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.55–0.85), non-Hispanic black women from Sub-Saharan Africa (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.47–0.73), and non-Hispanic white women from other developed countries (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.69–1.00), as compared with their US-born racial/ethnic counterparts. Results were, in general, similar after adjustment for pregnancy complications. Conclusions Compared with most other racial/ethnic groups, non-Hispanic whites had lower risk of LBW. Foreign-born women had lower risk of LBW compared with their US-born counterparts in the majority of racial/ethnic groups. Pregnancy complications had minimal effect on the associations.

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This research was supported by the de Beaumont Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (T32 HD052462), and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (T76 MC00011).

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Correspondence to Paige D. Wartko.

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Wartko, P.D., Wong, E.Y. & Enquobahrie, D.A. Maternal Birthplace is Associated with Low Birth Weight Within Racial/Ethnic Groups. Matern Child Health J 21, 1358–1366 (2017).

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  • Low birth weight
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Foreign-born
  • Nativity
  • Immigrant