Neighborhood crime, deprivation, and preterm birth

Ann Epidemiol. 2006 Jun;16(6):455-62. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2005.08.006. Epub 2005 Nov 14.


Purpose: Significant racial disparity in preterm birth (PTB; birth at <37 weeks' gestation) exists, poorly explained by Individual-level factors. This research explores whether neighborhood crime contributes to the racial disparity in PTB.

Methods: Geocoded Wake County, NC, birth records and crime-report data for 1999 to 2001 were merged with US Census data (2000). Race-stratified logistic and multilevel logistic models produced odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for block-group violent, theft, property, and vice crime rates and singleton PTB.

Results: A total of 13,960 women resided in a 114-block-group crime area. Non-Hispanic black women were more likely than non-Hispanic white women to deliver preterm (12.8% versus 6.7%), live in economically deprived block groups (42.2% versus 19.3% in the highest deprivation quartile), and experience more crime (32.0% versus 3.8% in the highest violent-crime-rate quartile). Quartiles of violent, theft, property, and vice crimes were associated with PTB in unadjusted models. Living in very high violent-crime-rate block-group quartiles was suggestive of increased odds of PTB for white and black non-Hispanic women (OR = 1.5; 95% CI, 0.9-2.6; and OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0-2.1, respectively) in adjusted models. Other crime effects were attenuated after adjustment.

Conclusions: Differential neighborhood exposures may contribute to racial disparity in PTB.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / ethnology*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*