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Neighborhood Gun Violence and Birth Outcomes in Chicago

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To examine the association between gun violence and birth outcomes among women in Chicago.


Using a 5-year set of birth files (2011–2015) merged with census and police data, birth outcomes including low birth weight (LBW, BW < 2500 g), preterm birth (PTB, < 37 weeks gestation), and small-for-gestational-age (SGA, BW < 10th percentile) were examined among non-Hispanic (NH) white, NH black, and Hispanic women in Chicago. Gun violence rates were categorized into tertiles. Multilevel, multiple logistic regression examined the effects of gun violence and race/ethnicity on birth outcomes.


Of 175,065 births, 10.6% of LBW, 10.6% of PTB, and 9.1% of SGA occurred in high violence tertile. Using white women in low violence tertile as reference, the OR for LBW among black women ranged 1.9–2.1 across all tertiles, and 0.8–1.2 among Hispanic women. OR for PTB for black women were 1.6–1.7 and 1.0–1.2 for Hispanic women, and OR for SGA for black women were 1.6–1.7 and for Hispanic women 0.9–1.0.

Conclusions for Practice

In Chicago, race/ethnicity was associated with birth outcomes, regardless of the level of exposure to gun violence, in 2011–2015. The differences in racial/ethnic composition across the violence exposure levels suggest that, rather than gun violence alone, residential segregation and the geographic inequities likely contribute to disparate birth outcomes.

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Correspondence to Nana Matoba.

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Matoba, N., Reina, M., Prachand, N. et al. Neighborhood Gun Violence and Birth Outcomes in Chicago. Matern Child Health J 23, 1251–1259 (2019).

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