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Fam Plann Perspect. 1994 Nov-Dec;26(6):252-6, 271.

Maternal marital status as a risk factor for infant mortality.

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  • 1Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


The increased risk of infant mortality associated with single motherhood is neither consistent among social and demographic subgroups nor inevitable, according to data from national linked birth and infant death files for 1983-1985. Maternal age is the only variable found to have a significant interaction with marital status among black mothers, and the risk associated with unmarried status increases with age. Among white mothers, age, educational level and receipt of prenatal care all show significant interactions with marital status; the increased risks of infant mortality attributed to unmarried motherhood are concentrated among subgroups usually thought to be at lower risk. For example, the risks of infant mortality among unmarried white women relative to married white women are highest among 25-29-year-olds. However, being unmarried did not affect the risk of infant mortality among babies born to college-educated white women.

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