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Matern Child Health J. 2010 Sep;14(5):735-41. doi: 10.1007/s10995-009-0482-1. Epub 2009 Jun 13.

The impact of paternal involvement on feto-infant morbidity among Whites, Blacks and Hispanics.

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  • 1Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, 33612-3805, USA.


Few studies have examined paternal involvement in relation to feto-infant health; therefore we aim to assess the impact of absence of the father on birth outcomes among racial-ethnic subgroups. Florida vital statistics records for singleton births occurring between 1998 and 2005 were used for this study. Births to women less than 20 years of age and births outside the gestational age range of 20-44 weeks were excluded. Adjusted and unadjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were generated to examine the impact of paternal involvement, as defined by presence of paternal information on the birth certificate, on feto-infant morbidity across racial-ethnic sub-populations. There were higher rates of low birth weight, very low birth weight, preterm birth, very preterm birth, and small for gestational age (SGA) among father-absent births. Within each racial-ethnic subgroup, women with absent fathers had higher risks of poor birth outcomes than their counterparts with involved fathers. Black women with absent fathers had the highest risk of low birth weight, very low birth weight, preterm birth, very preterm birth, and SGA. Promoting paternal involvement during the perinatal period may provide a means to decrease the proportion of infants born of very low birth weight or very preterm, thus potentially reducing the black-white disparity in infant mortality.

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