Assessing the impact of paternal involvement on racial/ethnic disparities in infant mortality rates

J Community Health. 2011 Feb;36(1):63-8. doi: 10.1007/s10900-010-9280-3.


We sought to assess the contribution of paternal involvement to racial disparities in infant mortality. Using vital records data from singleton births in Florida between 1998 and 2005, we generated odds ratios (OR), 95% confidence intervals (CI), and preventative fractions to assess the association between paternal involvement and infant mortality. Paternal involvement status was based on presence/absence of paternal first and/or last name on the birth certificate. Disparities in infant mortality were observed between and within racial/ethnic subpopulations. When compared to Hispanic (NH)-white women with involved fathers, NH-black women with involved fathers had a two-fold increased risk of infant mortality whereas infants born to black women with absent fathers had a seven-fold increased risk of infant mortality. Elevated risks of infant mortality were also observed for Hispanic infants with absent fathers (OR = 3.33. 95%CI = 2.66-4.17). About 65-75% of excess mortality could be prevented with increased paternal involvement. Paternal absence widens the black-white gap in infant mortality almost four-fold. Intervention programs to improve perinatal paternal involvement may decrease the burden of absent father-associated infant mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Birth Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Father-Child Relations / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / ethnology*
  • Infant Mortality / trends
  • Male
  • Paternal Deprivation / ethnology*
  • Risk Assessment