The effect of Hurricane Katrina: births in the U.S. Gulf Coast region, before and after the storm

Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2009 Aug 28;58(2):1-28, 32.


Objectives: This report presents birth data for the region affected by Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall along the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 29, 2005, comparing the 12-month periods before and after the storm according to a wide variety of characteristics. Data are presented for maternal demographic characteristics including age, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, and educational attainment; medical care utilization by pregnant women (prenatal care and method of delivery); and infant characteristics or birth outcomes (period of gestation and birthweight).

Methods: Descriptive tabulations of data reported on the birth certificates of residents of the 91 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-designated counties and parishes of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are presented for the 12-month periods before and after Hurricane Katrina struck, from August 29, 2004, through August 28, 2006. Detailed data are shown separately for 14 selected, FEMA-designated coastal counties and parishes within a 100-mile radius of the Hurricane Katrina storm path, the area hit very hard by the storm and subsequent flooding. These 14 selected coastal counties and parishes are a subset of the 91 FEMA-designated counties and parishes.

Results: The total number of births in the 14 selected FEMA-designated counties and parishes decreased 19 percent in the 12 months after Hurricane Katrina compared with the 12 months before, with births declining in the selected counties and parishes of Louisiana and Mississippi and rising in the counties of Alabama. The number of births to non-Hispanic black women in the selected parishes of Louisiana fell substantially after Hurricane Katrina; births declined for non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander women in these selected parishes as well. The percentage of births to women under age 20 years for the selected counties and parishes after the storm was essentially unchanged in Alabama and Mississippi, but decreased in Louisiana. The proportion of births to unmarried women decreased in the selected parishes of Louisiana, but increased in the selected counties elsewhere. Large decreases were observed in very preterm and very low birthweight rates for the selected parishes of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, whereas a large increase was observed in very preterm births for the selected counties of Alabama.

MeSH terms

  • Alabama
  • Birth Rate / trends*
  • Cyclonic Storms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Floods / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Mississippi
  • New Orleans
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors