Urban violence and African-American pregnancy outcome: an ecologic study

Ethn Dis. 1997 Autumn;7(3):184-90.


Objectives: To ascertain the extent to which residence in violent communities is an independent risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes among impoverished (census tract median family income < $10,000/year) African-American mothers.

Design: A cross-sectional study was performed.

Methods: We performed multivariate analyses on 1983 Illinois vital records, Chicago Police Department violent crime rates, and 1980 United States Census income data.

Results: African-American mothers who resided in the most violent communities had a low birth weight rate of 16% compared to 12% for infants (N = 315) with mothers who lived in the least violent communities; odds ratio = 1.5 (1.0-2.1). The proportion of small-for-gestational-age infants was substantially elevated in mothers who resided in the most violent communities compared to mothers who lived in the least violent communities: 7% vs. 3%; odds ratio = 2.6 (1.5-2.1). In multivariate logistic regression models that controlled for individual risk factors, the adjusted odds ratios for low birth weight and small-for-gestational-age infants among mothers who resided in the most (compared to the least) violent communities were 1.1 (0.9-1.2) and 1.5 (1.1-2.1), respectively.

Conclusion: We conclude that a community's violent crime rate is associated with intrauterine growth retardation among infants born to African-American women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bias
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Logistic Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / ethnology*
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / trends