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The age-related patterns of preterm birth among urban African-American and non-Latina White mothers: The effect of paternal involvement

Hibbs, S. D.; Rankin, K. M.; DeSisto, C.; Collins, J. W., Jr.

Soc Sci Med. 2018 Jun 9; 211:16-20

Abstract

Few studies have examined contributions of paternal factors to birth outcomes. Weathering is a pattern of increasing rates of adverse birth outcome with increasing maternal age. This study evaluates for an association between paternal involvement and weathering in the context of preterm birth (PTB, <37 weeks) among non-Hispanic African-American and non-Hispanic White women with and without lifelong exposure to neighborhood poverty. Using the Illinois transgenerational dataset with appended US census income information of infants (1989-1991) and their mothers (1956-1976), we compared infants of women by degree of paternal involvement: married, unmarried with father named on birth certificate, and unnamed father. Data were stratified by maternal residence in higher or lower income neighborhoods at both the time of mothers' birth and infants' birth, estimating maternal lifelong economic context. We computed race-specific PTB rates according to maternal age, lifelong neighborhood income, and paternal involvement. We calculated Mantel-Haenszel chi-square tests of linear trend from contingency tables to evaluate weathering. Among African-Americans (n=39,991) with unnamed fathers and lifelong residence in lower income neighborhoods, PTB rate was lowest among teens at 18.8%, compared to 21.5% for 30-35 year-old mothers (p for linear trend <0.05). Among African-Americans with unnamed fathers and lifelong residence in higher income neighborhoods, PTB rate among teens was 16%, compared to 25% for 30-35 year-old mothers (p=0.21). Among married African-Americans with lifelong residence in lower income neighborhoods, PTB rate among teens was 16.4%, compared to 12.5% for 30-35 year-old mothers (p=0.79). Among married African-Americans with lifelong residence in higher income neighborhoods, PTB rate among teens was 20%, compared to 11.4% for 30-35 year-old mothers (p=0.40). White mothers (n=31,981) did not demonstrate weathering, regardless of paternal involvement and neighborhood poverty. We conclude that weathering was not seen among married African-Americans, independent of neighborhood income, suggesting a potentially protective mechanism associated with paternal involvement.

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