Examining the spatial distribution of low birth weight and relationship with socioeconomic status, housing types, and accessibility to healthcare in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.

Authors: Eugene Ahwireng*, Western Michigan University, Kathleen M Baker, Western Michigan University Department of Geography & Health Data Research Analysis & Mapping, MI 49008, Benjamin Ofori-Amoah, Western Michigan Universtiy, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: Health, Low birth-weight, risk, infant, intervention
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Infants with low birth weight due to early delivery or fetal growth restriction face an increased risk of health conditions and deaths. These risk factors and the cost associated with healthcare for the infants makes low birth weight a major public health problem. Understanding early precursor challenges expectant mothers face before delivery would help in planning interventions to reduce low birth weight among infants.
This study is in two folds. First, we examine the spatial distribution of low birth weight in Kalamazoo County to delineate areas with issues in a geographic information system. Second, we model the relationship between low birth weight in infant and explanatory variables such as socioeconomic status, housing types, and access to health care. The combined spatial distribution maps and model will help identify areas with high risk of low birth weight.
The data used was obtained from the Michigan Vital Records from 2008-2012. HSIRB was approved by Western Michigan University. We geocoded the individual level addresses for mothers in the data using the street addresses obtained from the Kalamazoo County Planning and GIS Department. For this study, we approximated neighborhood unit at the block group, and obtained demographic information from the United States Census Bureau. A multivariate linear regression was used to model the relationship between the dependent (low birth-weight) and predictor variables.
The approach used in this study is replicable and would help in planning intervention programs to reduce the disparities that exist in infant health outcomes in Kalamazoo County.

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