Dr. Mary Schooling, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and an international team of investigators examined the association socioeconomic status and poor birth outcomes. The findings were published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
[Photo: Dr. C. Mary Schooling]
Preterm birth, low birth weight and small-for-gestational age are associated with lower socioeconomic status in developed Western settings, but this research team wanted to assess the associations in Hong Kong where socioeconomic status is measured differently. Additionally, in Hong Kong few women smoke or use alcohol.
The sample included more than 8,000 singleton births from the Hong Kong population-representative ‘Children of 1997’ birth cohort.
The only measure of socioeconomic status associated with preterm birth was type of housing adjusted for maternal age. Highest paternal education had a small positive association with birth weight adjusted for gestational age, as did residing in private compared with public housing. However, these associations did not persist after adjusting for mother’s age. Lower neighborhood inequality adjusted for mother’s age was associated with a lower risk of small-for-gestational age. None of these associations remained after adjusting for multiple comparisons.
Preterm birth, birth weight and small-for-gestational age may be less clearly socially patterned in Hong Kong than other developed settings, highlighting the need for setting-specific interventions to prevent adverse birth outcomes.