Disparities| Volume 29, ISSUE 5, P400-406, September 2019

Medical and Psychosocial Risk Profiles for Low Birthweight and Preterm Birth



      Low birthweight and preterm birth are risk factors for infant mortality and persistent problems. This study uses representative data to assess whether distinct latent profiles of co-occurring medical and psychosocial factors have implications for preterm birth and low birthweight.


      Data are from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, a cross-sectional survey constituting representative data on pregnancies from 2012 to 2013. Latent class analysis derived classes of pregnant women potentially at risk for low birthweight and/or preterm birth.


      Latent class analysis identified five homogenous profiles of interrelated psychosocial and medical factors. Risk was greatest for the profile marked by high rates of medical factors, followed by a high risk for a profile marked by a combination of very low income and psychosocial factors. Two profiles involving low income and very low income also indicated greater risk for adverse birth outcomes related to socioeconomic status.


      More attention should be paid to screening for and addressing psychosocial risk in concert with prenatal care. Women who show high-risk profiles can be monitored and supported by an interdisciplinary care team, when warranted.
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      Sara Shaw, PhD, is a Research Scientist in the Early Childhood Department at Child Trends. Sara's work focuses on using community-based research to promote the positive development of children who experience adversity and trauma in early childhood.


      Janette Herbers, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Villanova University. She researches risk and resilience in child development. Her work seeks to understand how positive parenting and interventions support adaptation in adverse contexts.


      J. J. Cutuli, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University — Camden. As a developmental scientist, his work considers the interplay of factors that contribute to resilience or poor outcomes for children and families.