Ethnic disparities in infant mortality and low birth weight in Florida

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Marygrace Yale Kaiser - Committee Chair


Racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality (IM) and low birthweight (LBW) remain an important public health issue. Research has revealed Hispanic mothers to be less effected by traditional risk factors for IM and LBW, than other racial/ethnic groups. Understanding the relationship between traditional risk factors associated with these outcomes and a mother's ethnicity is an important step towards prevention. This study examined the risk of IM and LBW for 541,861 mother and singleton infant dyads delivering in Florida. Risk was examined both in comparison to White non-Hispanics (White NH), and within each Hispanic group, as well as the risk associated with selected risk factors for IM and LBW.Risk ratio analysis revealed Black non-Hispanics were at over two times the risk of both IM and LBW, compared to White NH. Hispanics were at a decreased risk for IM than White NH, but their risk for LBW was not similarly reduced. Asians were at an increased risk for LBW, as compared to White NH. As compared to the White NH referent group, the level of risk for IM and LBW varied among the Hispanic groups. Cubans and Mexicans were at decreased risk for both IM and LBW; Mexicans were at the same level of risk for both outcomes; and Puerto Ricans were at the same level of risk for IM, but were at increased risk for LBW.Analysis showed there to be less of an association between selected risk factors and IM and LBW among Hispanics than among White NH. This was evident more so with the IM results than with LBW. Risk analysis comparing the effects of risk factors within the Hispanic groups revealed a diverse association among the Hispanic groups, particularly with maternal education. Maternal U.S.-born nativity status was only associated with an increased risk for LBW among Mexicans. These results emphasize the diversity of the Hispanic population with regard to presence of risk factors for IM and LBW and their association with infant outcome.


Black Studies; Health Sciences, Public Health; Psychology, Developmental; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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