A landscape approach using remote sensing (RS) and geographic information system (GIS) technologies was developed to identify the proximity of maternal residence to agricultural areas, and the association between crop production patterns around mothers residences and low birth weight was evaluated. Satellite data obtained for Weld County, Colorado, in 1991 and 1993 were digitally processed to generate crop location maps for this study. GIS procedures were then used to determine crop types within 300- and 500-m circular zones around mothers' homes for 125 births that occurred from 1991 to 1993 in the study area. The relationships between different crop patterns around the mothers' residences and the birth weight of babies were investigated while controlling for potential confounding variables. The results indicated that low birth weight was associated with total crop production area within a 300-m buffer zone around mothers' residences (P=0.058). When each of the study crops was considered separately, low birth weight was associated with sugar beet production (P=0.05) and corn production (P=0.1) within both the 300- and the 500-m buffer zones. This RS/GIS approach provides clues to the potential relationships between birth weight and crop production near the residence.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.