Racial/Ethnic and Nativity Differences in Birth Outcomes Among Mothers in New York City: The Role of Social Ties and Social Support

Simmons School of Social Work, Boston, MA, USA, .
Maternal and Child Health Journal (Impact Factor: 2.24). 02/2013; 18(1). DOI: 10.1007/s10995-013-1238-5
Source: PubMed


Immigrants have lower rates of low birth weight (LBW) and to some extent preterm birth (PTB), than their US-born counterparts. This pattern has been termed the 'immigrant health paradox'. Social ties and support are one proposed explanation for this phenomenon. We examined the contribution of social ties and social support to LBW and PTB by race/ethnicity and nativity among women in New York City (NYC). The NYC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System survey (2004-2007) data, linked with the selected items from birth certificates, were used to examine LBW and PTB by race/ethnicity and nativity status and the role of social ties and social support to adverse birth outcomes using bivariate and multivariable analyses. SUDAAN software was used to adjust for complex survey design and sampling weights. US- and foreign-born Blacks had significantly increased odds of PTB [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.43, 95 % CI 1.56, 3.77 and AOR = 2.6, 95 % CI 1.66, 4.24, respectively] compared to US-born Whites. Odds of PTB among foreign-born Other Latinas, Island-born Puerto Ricans' and foreign-born Asians' were not significantly different from US-born Whites, while odds of PTB for foreign-born Whites were significantly lower (AOR = 0.47, 95 % CI 0.26, 0.84). US and foreign-born Blacks' odds of LBW were 2.5 fold that of US-born Whites. Fewer social ties were associated with 32-39 % lower odds of PTB. Lower social support was associated with decreased odds of LBW (AOR 0.69, 95 % CI 0.50, 0.96). We found stronger evidence of the immigrant health paradox across racial/ethnic groups for PTB than for LBW. Results also point to the importance of accurately assessing social ties and social support during pregnancy and to considering the potential downside of social ties.

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    ABSTRACT: Additional social support is often recommended for women during the prenatal period to optimise birth outcomes, specifically to avoid preterm birth. Social support is thought to act in one of two ways: by reducing stress and anxiety, or by providing coping mechanisms for women with high stress. However, evidence in this area is mixed. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to determine if low levels of social support are associated with an increased risk for preterm birth. Six databases were searched for randomised control trials and cohort studies regarding social support and preterm birth with no limits set on date or language. Inclusion criteria included the use of a validated instrument to measure social support, and studies conducted in high-income or high-middle-income countries. There were 3467 records retrieved, 16 of which met the inclusion criteria. Eight studies (n = 14 630 subjects) demonstrated a pooled odds ratio (OR) of 1.22 (95% CI 0.84, 1.76) for preterm birth in women with low social support compared with high social support. Among women with high stress levels, two studies (n = 6374 subjects) yielded a pooled OR of 1.52 (95% CI 1.18, 1.97). The results of six studies could not be pooled due to incompatibility of outcome measures. There is no evidence for a direct association between social support and preterm birth. Social support, however, may provide a buffering mechanism between stress and preterm birth. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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