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Spat Spatiotemporal Epidemiol. 2011 Dec;2(4):265-71. doi: 10.1016/j.sste.2011.07.011.

Spatio-temporal patterning of small area low birth weight incidence and its correlates: a latent spatial structure approach.

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


Low birth weight (LBW) defined as infant weight at birth of less than 2500 g is a useful health outcome for exploring spatio-temporal variation and the role of covariates. LBW is a key measure of population health used by local, national and international health organizations. Yet its spatio-temporal patterns and their dependence structures are poorly understood. In this study we examine the use of flexible latent structure models for the analysis of spatio-temporal variation in LBW. Beyond the explanatory capabilities of well-known predictors, we observe spatio-temporal effects, which are not directly observable using conventional modeling approaches. Our analysis shows that for county-level counts of LBW in Georgia and South Carolina the proportion of black population is a positive risk factor while high-income is a negative risk factor. Two dominant residual temporal components are also estimated. Finally our proposed method provides a better goodness-of-fit to these data than the conventional space–time models.


latent structure; low birth weight; small area; socioeconomic; spatial; temporal

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