The joint influence of area income, inequality, and immigrant density on adverse birth outcomes: a population-based study

Auger, Nathalie; Giraud, Julie; Daniel, Mark
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p237
Academic Journal
Background: The association between area characteristics and birth outcomes is modified by race. Whether such associations vary according to social class indicators beyond race has not been assessed. Methods: This study evaluated effect modification by maternal birthplace and education of the relationship between neighbourhood characteristics and birth outcomes of newborns from 1999-2003 in the province of Québec, Canada (N = 353,120 births). Areas (N = 143) were defined as administrative local health service delivery districts. Multi-level logistic regression was used to model the association between three area characteristics (median household income, immigrant density and income inequality) and the two outcomes preterm birth (PTB) and small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth. Effect modification by social class indicators was evaluated in analyses stratified according to maternal birthplace and education. Results: Relative to the lowest tertile, high median household income was associated with SGA birth among Canadian-born mothers (odds ratio (OR) 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06, 1.20) and mothers with high school education or less (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.02, 1.24). Associations between median household income and PTB were weaker. Relative to the highest tertile, low immigrant density was associated with a lower odds of PTB among foreign-born mothers (OR 0.79, 95% CI 0.63, 1.00) but a higher odds of PTB among Canadian-born mothers (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.07, 1.21). Associations with income inequality were weak or absent. Conclusion: The association between area factors and birth outcomes is modified by maternal birthplace and education. Studies have found that race interacts in a similar manner. Public health policies focussed on perinatal health must consider the interaction between individual and area characteristics.


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