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Stat Med. 2018 May 30;37(12):1973-1985. doi: 10.1002/sim.7624. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Estimating recurrence and incidence of preterm birth subject to measurement error in gestational age: A hidden Markov modeling approach.

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Biostatistics Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, 20852, USA.


Prediction of preterm birth as well as characterizing the etiological factors affecting both the recurrence and incidence of preterm birth (defined as gestational age at birth ≤ 37 wk) are important problems in obstetrics. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) consecutive pregnancy study recently examined this question by collecting data on a cohort of women with at least 2 pregnancies over a fixed time interval. Unfortunately, measurement error due to the dating of conception may induce sizable error in computing gestational age at birth. This article proposes a flexible approach that accounts for measurement error in gestational age when making inference. The proposed approach is a hidden Markov model that accounts for measurement error in gestational age by exploiting the relationship between gestational age at birth and birth weight. We initially model the measurement error as being normally distributed, followed by a mixture of normals that has been proposed on the basis of biological considerations. We examine the asymptotic bias of the proposed approach when measurement error is ignored and also compare the efficiency of this approach to a simpler hidden Markov model formulation where only gestational age and not birth weight is incorporated. The proposed model is compared with alternative models for estimating important covariate effects on the risk of subsequent preterm birth using a unique set of data from the NICHD consecutive pregnancy study.


hidden Markov model; longitudinal data analysis; measurement error

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