Perceived risk of preterm and low-birthweight birth in the Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jul;199(1):64.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2007.12.018. Epub 2008 May 2.


Objective: Engaging women in preconception prevention may be challenging if at-risk women do not perceive increased risk. This study examined predictors of perceiving increased risk for preterm/low birthweight birth.

Study design: Using the Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study, a population-based sample of reproductive-age women, we analyzed whether sociodemographics, health and pregnancy history, health behaviors, attitudes, or health care utilization predicted risk perception of preterm/low-birthweight birth.

Results: Of the 645 women analyzed, 157 (24%) estimated their risk of preterm/low-birthweight birth to be very or somewhat likely. Higher perceived risk was associated with being underweight, previous preterm/low-birthweight birth, having a mother with previous preterm/low-birthweight birth, lower perceived severity of preterm/low birthweight, and smoking.

Conclusions: Several factors known to predict preterm/low birthweight did influence risk perception in this study, whereas others did not. Further research on how these factors have an impact on participation in preconception care programs is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / epidemiology*
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors