Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Richard Rothenberg, MD, MPH

Second Advisor

William M. Callaghan, MD, MPH

Third Advisor

Gary D. Nelson, PhD



The role of stress in racial disparities of preterm and low birth weight births in Georgia

(Under the direction of Richard Rothenberg, MD, MPH)

Preterm birth (PTB) and low birth weight (LBW) are the leading causes of infant deaths in Georgia. Georgia PRAMS data (2004-2008) were analyzed for non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black women with singleton births, using SAS 9.2 survey procedures. Thirteen stressful life events experienced in a year before delivery, socio-demographic, medical and behavioral risks were used as predictors of PTB and LBW. Significant racial disparity in birth outcomes and risks was found. In Whites stressful events were associated with adverse birth outcomes in bivariate logistic regression, but weakened when controlling for other factors (income, education, maternal age, maternal health, alcohol and tobacco use, infant’s gender and birth defects). In Blacks, association between stressful events and adverse birth outcomes adjusted for other risks was stronger. Socio-economic factors and mother’s health status were more significant in predicting birth outcome. Women’s health and SES improvement might increase favorable pregnancy outcomes and reduce racial disparities.