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Neighborhood Gun Violence and Birth Outcomes in Chicago

Matoba, N.; Reina, M.; Prachand, N.; Davis, M. M.; Collins, J. W.

Matern Child Health J. 2019 Jun 20; 23(9):1251-1259


OBJECTIVES: To examine the association between gun violence and birth outcomes among women in Chicago. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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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