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Am J Public Health. 2001 Nov;91(11):1808-14.

The relationship of neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics to birthweight among 5 ethnic groups in California.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.



This study sought to examine relationships between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and birthweight, accounting for individual socioeconomic characteristics, among 5 ethnic groups.


Birth records were linked to census block-group data for 22 304 women delivering infants at 18 California hospitals during 1994-1995. Information on income and additional factors was obtained from a surveyed subset of 8457 women. Neighborhood levels of poverty, unemployment, and education were examined.


After adjustment for mothers' individual socioeconomic characteristics and other risk factors, less-favorable neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics were associated with lower birthweight among Blacks and Asians. No consistent relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and birthweight was found among Whites, US-born Latinas, or foreign-born Latinas overall, but birthweight increased with less-favorable neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics among foreign-born Latinas in high-poverty or high-unemployment neighborhoods. These findings were not explained by measured behavioral or cultural factors.


In addition to individual socioeconomic characteristics, living in neighborhoods that are less socioeconomically advantaged may differentially influence birthweight, depending on women's ethnicity and nativity.

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