Infant Birth Weights and Psychosocial Profiles of Mothers


Name: Sandra Engebretsen


Organization: Henry M. Jackson Foundation

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

Year Published: 1997

Abstract Status: Final


Low birth weight (LBW) and prematurity cost the nation billions of dollars annually. Many researchers have examined the link between preconceptual and prenatal variables and pregnancy outcomes, but few have studied psychosocial factors as predictors of LBW. Because military women have access to no-cost, comprehensive health care, their pregnancy outcomes must be related to factors other than accessibility or cost. This prospective, exploratory investigation examined the relationships between certain maternal variables and risk factors in a group of active-duty women and full-time working spouses of active-duty personnel and their pregnancy outcomes. A sample of 332 women at Naval Medical Center San Diego was studied. The maternal variables examined were demographic background, including education, partner status, race, total household income, job satisfaction, and desire to work during pregnancy. Biomedical risks and lifestyle risks were examined, including smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use, and hard-drug use. Psychosocial risks were measured with the Prenatal Psychosocial Profile (PPP). The main infant outcome of interest was birth weight, but other outcome variables examined included gestational age, Apgar scores, intrauterine growth restriction, meconium staining, and admission or transfer to the newborn intensive care unit. Of the 311 infants studied, 286 were full-term and not LBW, and 10 were LBW. Total pregnancy weight gain, number of prior deliveries, preterm delivery, and weight at first prenatal visit were found to be statistically significant predictors of birth weight. Women with low total pregnancy weight gain and preterm delivery were more likely to have LBW infants. Further study is needed to determine psychosocial risks in pregnancy, their effects on infant outcomes, and the effectiveness of interventions to manage stress in pregnant military women.


Final report is available on NTRL: