Moms, Place, and Low Birth Weight Part 1: Detroit

Blog post by Kit Frohardt-Lane; Data Driven Detroit
March 12, 2015

Data Driven Detroit (D3)   (Detroit)

This three-part blog series examines one factor, low birth weight (“LBW”), which is closely associated with higher infant mortality rates. We look at information recorded on the infant’s birth certificate in an effort to understand whether there are demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the mother that can help identify women most at risk of having a LBW infant. In this first blog of the series we focus on Detroit exclusively, investigating the associations between the rate of low birth weight and (1) the mother’s age at the birth of the child; (2) her educational attainment; (3) her marital status; (4) her race; (5) her ethnicity; (6) the adequacy of the prenatal care she received; and (7) the distribution of LBW infants within the city of Detroit (by census tract of mother’s residence).

The second blog focuses on the same factors for the metro Detroit region, which for the purpose of this blog we define as Wayne County outside of Detroit, Oakland County, and Macomb County (“Metro Region”).  We compare the associations found for that region with those found for Detroit as a way of asking, “Does place matter?” If we find that place does matter (and it seems to), we ask in the third blog whether there is something else besides place of residence that can contribute to our understanding of differences in low birth weight rates.  In particular we investigate the effect of race and place together.