Infant Birth Weights and Psychosocial Profiles of Mothers


Name: Sandra Engebretsen


Organization: Henry M. Jackson Foundation

Performance Site: U.S. Naval Hospital-San Diego, San Diego, CA

Year Published: 1996

Abstract Status: Final


A major objective for national health care by the year 2000 is to reduce low birth weight to no more than 5% of live births (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service [USDHHS PHS], 1991). Until recently, few studies have focused on psychosocial factors affecting infant birth weights, such as personal and family stress including family violence, social support and self-esteem. Of the more than 38 million women ages 18 to 44 in the labor force, about 1 million have babies each year. Each day hundreds of babies are born to these women with the cost of caring for handicapped and low birth weight babies reaching well over $2.5 billion annually. In the military, these issues are gaining more attention due to a rise in female personnel. Determining those factors which affect working pregnant women is an important topic for the Department of Defense, especially within the current downsizing environment where the productivity of individual service members is a paramount concern. The purpose of the current research is to examine the multivariate relationship between assessments of psychosocial risk factors, medical risks and lifestyle variables and their relationship to adverse infant outcomes, including birth weight, in a military population. This population includes two groups, active duty women and full-time working partners of active duty members. In this study, 300 women at a major military hospital prenatal clinic will be interviewed using a previously tested psychosocial assessment tool. Medical risk data will be obtained from the medical records of these mothers, and the birth weights of their infants, as well as adverse infant outcomes will be recorded after delivery. Multivariate analyses using multiple regression will be performed. It is hypothesized that those with highest risk measures in the areas of stress, and lowest measures of self esteem and social support will have a higher incidence of adverse infant outcomes including low birth weight infants. The identification of those mothers at highest psychosocial risk for delivering infants of adverse infant outcomes, including low birth weight will aid in social service referral and the planning of nursing care.


Final report is available on NTRL: