Neighborhood conditions are associated with maternal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Nov;73(9):1302-11. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.08.012. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


Women residing in neighborhoods of low socioeconomic status are more likely to experience adverse reproductive outcomes; however, few studies explore which specific neighborhood features are associated with poor maternal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes. Based upon our conceptual model, directly observed street-level data from four North Carolina US counties were used to create five neighborhood indices: physical incivilities (neighborhood degradation), social spaces (public space for socializing), walkability (walkable neighborhoods), borders (property boundaries), and arterial features (traffic safety). Singleton birth records (2001-2005) were obtained from the North Carolina State Center for Vital Statistics and maternal health behavior information (smoking, inadequate or excessive weight gain) and pregnancy outcomes (pregnancy-induced hypertension/pre-eclampsia, low birthweight, preterm birth) were abstracted. Race-stratified random effect models were used to estimate associations between neighborhood indices and women's reproductive behaviors and outcomes. In adjusted models, higher amounts of physical incivilities were positively associated with maternal smoking and inadequate weight gain, while walkability was associated with lower odds of these maternal health behaviors. Social spaces were also associated with inadequate weight gain during pregnancy. Among pregnancy outcomes, high levels of physical incivilities were consistently associated with all adverse pregnancy outcomes, and high levels of walkability were inversely associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension and preterm birth for Non-Hispanic white women only. None of the indices were associated with adverse birth outcomes for Non-Hispanic black women. In conclusion, certain neighborhood conditions were associated with maternal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environment Design*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Maternal Welfare*
  • North Carolina
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Social Class
  • Young Adult