Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Gerald Ledlow

Committee Member 1

Renee Hotchkiss

Committee Member 2

Laura Gunn

Abstract

Despite advances in medical and preventive care in the U.S., the low birth weight percentage continues to rise in the U.S. and the state of Georgia. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of socioeconomic status, county type (rural vs. urban), and adequacy of prenatal care on low birth weight in the state of Georgia for the years 2000 to 2006. The study also applied practical methods such as spatial analysis and geographic information systems (GIS) in order to pinpoint the at-risk populations for adverse birth outcomes. This study involved the use of secondary data analysis, specifically vital records, to examine the relationships between socioeconomic status, adequate prenatal care, gestational age, and birth weight, controlling for certain maternal characteristics such as age, race, marital status, and education, for infants born in the state of Georgia. Ecological analyses were also conducted using the Georgia OASIS Mapping Tool from the Georgia Division of Public Health. Statistically significant associations were found for the maternal characteristics of age, race, and marital status. Mean birth weight was lower for those mothers who were African American, unmarried, and were either under the age of 19 or over the age of 40. The number of education years completed by the mother was also significant; as the level of education increased birth weight of the infant also increased. Logistic regression results found that there were associations between the three variables of interest and birth weight; socioeconomic status, county type, and adequacy of prenatal care. Based on the analyses, the women in the study population with the worst low birth weight outcomes were: women of advanced maternal age, unmarried women, African American women, women with adequate plus level of prenatal care, lower middle and lower socioeconomic strata, and women living in rural counties. Based on the results of the ecological analysis, the women who are most at-risk can be found primarily in southwestern counties of Georgia. Future research is needed to evaluate existing programs throughout Georgia that may provide additional important pieces of data to confirm the results of this study.

Share

COinS