Stress has been shown to adversely affect pregnancy outcomes. Neighborhood crime rates may serve as one publicly available social determinant of health for pregnancy studies that use registry or electronic health record datasets in which individual-level stress data are not available. We sought to determine whether neighborhood violent crime incidents were associated with measured perceived stress in a largely minority, urban pregnancy cohort. We performed a secondary analysis of the 1309 Philadelphia residents participating in the Motherhood and Microbiome cohort (n = 2000) with both neighborhood violent crime and Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-14) data. Generalized linear mixed models accounting for confounding variables and geographic clustering demonstrated that, regardless of race, women with the highest quartile of neighborhood violent crime had significantly elevated odds of high stress compared to women with lower crime. We also found that Black women were more likely to have both the highest quartile of neighborhood violent crime and high stress than non-Black women. Overall, this study demonstrates that neighborhood violent crime is associated with perceived stress in pregnancy. Given disparate exposure to crime and prenatal stress by race, future work is warranted to determine whether urban neighborhood violence and/or stress reduction strategies would improve birth outcome racial disparities.
Keywords: census tract; neighborhood; perceived stress; pregnancy; violent crime.