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Ann Fam Med. 2004 Mar-Apr;2(2):145-9.

Parental attitudes about a pregnancy predict birth weight in a low-income population.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Aurora 80045, USA.



Low birth weight remains the primary cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in the United States. We examined whether maternal happiness about a pregnancy, in addition to her report of the father's happiness, predicts birth weight and risk for low birth weight (<2,500 g).


In this prospective cohort study, the mother's report of her and her partner's happiness about the pregnancy was measured before 21 weeks' gestation on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 to 3 unhappy, 4 to 7 ambivalent, or 8 to 10 happy). "Mother reports partner happier" occurred when the mother perceived the father's happiness score at least 5 points greater than her own. Information on birth weights and maternal sociodemographic, medical, and psychosocial factors were obtained from surveys and medical records.


Of 162 live births, 9 were low birth weight (5.6%). Compared with women who reported happiness with the pregnancy, risk for low birth weight was greater when the mother reported partner happier about the pregnancy (relative risk 10.0, 95% confidence interval, 3.1-32.4). This predictor of birth weight remained significant in multivariate linear regression analyses (coefficient = -472 g, SE = 171 g, P = .007) after adjustment for other known predictors of birth weight.


Maternal report of greater partner happiness about a pregnancy is associated with birth weight and appears to define low- and high-risk subgroups for low birth weight in a low-income population. Further study in larger samples is needed to confirm our findings and to assess whether maternal report of greater partner happiness is itself a modifiable factor or is a marker for other factors that might be modified with targeted interventions.

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