The effect of high altitude and other risk factors on birthweight: independent or interactive effects?

Am J Public Health. 1997 Jun;87(6):1003-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.6.1003.


Objectives: This study examined whether the decline in birth-weight with increasing altitude is due to an independent effect of altitude or an exacerbation of other risk factors.

Methods: Maternal, paternal, and infant characteristics were obtained from 3836 Colorado birth certificates from 1989 through 1991. Average altitude of residence for each county was determined.

Results: None of the characteristics related to birthweight (gestational age, maternal weight gain, parity, smoking, prenatal care visits, hypertension, previous small-for-gestational-age infant, female newborn) interacted with the effect of altitude. Birthweight declined an average of 102 g per 3300 ft (1000 m) elevation when the other characteristics were taken into account, increasing the percentage of low birthweight by 54% from the lowest to the highest elevations in Colorado.

Conclusions: High altitude acts independently from other factors to reduce birthweight and accounts for Colorado's high rate of low birthweight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altitude*
  • Birth Weight*
  • Colorado
  • Fathers / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*