Effects of individual and social factors on preterm birth and low birth weight: empirical evidence from regional data in Italy

Int J Public Health. 2012 Apr;57(2):261-8. doi: 10.1007/s00038-011-0311-3. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


Objectives: We examine the effects of mother's characteristics and socioeconomic condition on weight at birth and preterm delivery in an Italian region (Umbria).

Methods: The study concerns all live-born singleton infants in 2007 with at least a gestational age of 22 weeks. Information derived from the Standard Certificate of Live Birth was linked to information from census statistics, so as to obtain a deprivation index.

Results: On the basis of the fitting of two separate logistic regression models, we conclude that all individual socioeconomic factors are strongly associated with the outcomes at birth, apart from the deprivation index. Older and less educated mothers, and those with lower occupational level, have a higher probability to run into preterm delivery with respect to the other mothers. The relative risk ratios for low birth weight are significantly higher for older mothers, non-European, and not married. Lower weight rates are found in infants from complicated pregnancy and non-spontaneous conception.

Conclusions: Effects of mother's characteristics on weight at birth and weeks of gestation are confirmed. The deprivation index does not affect these outcomes, showing the proper implementation of the Health System.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Birth Certificates
  • Birth Weight
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Marital Status
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth / etiology*
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult