Moms, Place, and Low Birth Weight Part 3: Place and Race Together

Blog post by Kit Frohardt-Lane; Data Driven Detroit
May 2015

Data Driven Detroit (D3)   (Detroit)

This is the third in a three-part blog series examining correlates of low birth weight in babies born in 2010, 2011, and 2012 in Detroit and the "Metro Region" (defined as Wayne County outside of Detroit, Oakland, and Macomb counties). The first blog post looked at the associations between a baby’s birth weight and the mother’s age, education, marital status, ethnicity, and race; the level of prenatal care she received; and the area of residence for women within the city of Detroit.  That analysis showed that birth weight was related to the mother’s characteristics for women living in Detroit, although the strength of the relationship depended on the characteristic.

The second blog post compared the findings for Detroit to those for the Metro Region, in effect asking, “Does place matter?”  We found that by including place of residence along with the mother’s characteristics we gained an even better understanding of demographic influences on birth weight; that is, place does matter.

In the third blog post we added another layer to the analysis: the mother’s race.  For the analysis we constructed four place-race groups:  Detroit Blacks; Detroit Whites; Metro Region Blacks; and Metro Region Whites.  Whether we examined the relationships by women’s age, education, marital status, or level of prenatal care, the results were the same:  Blacks consistently had higher rates of low birth weight for their babies than Whites, whether they lived in Detroit or the Metro Region.  Detroit Whites occupied an intermediate position, generally having somewhat higher rates than Metro Region Whites but typically lower rates than Black women in either region.  In short, both place and race were significant factors for a baby’s birth weight.  We ended by cautioning that the results reviewed in the three blog posts were intended only to stimulate conversation about demographic factors influencing birth weight, not to identify which of the factors were most important.