A Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Low Birth Weight Prevalence in Georgia, USA

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Low birth weight (LBW), defined as a live birth weighing <2,500 g, is a significant public health problem in the United States, especially a few states including Georgia. Although much work has been done to study the epidemiology of LBW in various regions, the spatial–temporal patterns of LBW prevalence in Georgia remain unclear to a large degree. This paper investigates the temporal trend of LBW rates over a time span of 11 years and the spatial clusters of LBW prevalence in the state of Georgia at the county level. Comparison is also made between race and gender groups, and between county groups of different socioeconomic statuses to uncover disparities. Results showed a steady and prevalent increase of LBW rate in the state over the study period. Three counties and two county clusters with significantly higher LBW rates than the state rate were detected for 1999–2001, while one more county and two more county clusters of high LBW rates were detected for 2007–2009. More urbanized counties were found to have a relatively lower LBW rate when compared with the less urbanized ones as groups. The findings from this paper are expected to provide valuable insights to better understanding the etiology of LBW and more effective allocating prenatal health care resources in the future.