The relationship of neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics to birthweight among 5 ethnic groups in California

Am J Public Health. 2001 Nov;91(11):1808-14. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.11.1808.


Objectives: This study sought to examine relationships between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and birthweight, accounting for individual socioeconomic characteristics, among 5 ethnic groups.

Methods: Birth records were linked to census block-group data for 22 304 women delivering infants at 18 California hospitals during 1994-1995. Information on income and additional factors was obtained from a surveyed subset of 8457 women. Neighborhood levels of poverty, unemployment, and education were examined.

Results: After adjustment for mothers' individual socioeconomic characteristics and other risk factors, less-favorable neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics were associated with lower birthweight among Blacks and Asians. No consistent relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and birthweight was found among Whites, US-born Latinas, or foreign-born Latinas overall, but birthweight increased with less-favorable neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics among foreign-born Latinas in high-poverty or high-unemployment neighborhoods. These findings were not explained by measured behavioral or cultural factors.

Conclusions: In addition to individual socioeconomic characteristics, living in neighborhoods that are less socioeconomically advantaged may differentially influence birthweight, depending on women's ethnicity and nativity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • California / epidemiology
  • Censuses
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Poverty Areas
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / ethnology*
  • Residence Characteristics / classification*
  • Small-Area Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data