239164 Importance of men: The influence of paternal involvement on infant mortality

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:10 AM

Barbara Singer, MSPH, MSW , School of Public Health, Department of Family Science, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD
Sandra Hofferth, PhD , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
Background Most research on infant mortality has focused on the contribution of maternal characteristics and behaviors but not those of fathers. Father involvement may be more variable for unmarried parents but little is known about how it affects infant mortality.

Methods A sample of infants of unmarried mothers (N=33,969) was selected from the National Center for Vital Statistics' 2002 Linked Birth and Infant Death data file. Using Cox Proportional Hazards Models, the study examined the risk of the death of an infant within the first 365 days of life as a function of paternal involvement during the pregnancy, maternal health behaviors, and low birth weight. Maternal age, education, and race/ethnicity were controlled.

Results When fathers were not involved, there was a 67% higher risk of infant mortality (p<.0001). Half of the effect of low involvement on infant mortality was explained by the mother receiving inadequate prenatal care.

Conclusions The findings of this study suggest that the association between father involvement and infant mortality is partially explained by the mother being less likely to receive adequate prenatal care and subsequently to have a low birth weight infant. Additional exploration is warranted to learn more about the relationship between paternal involvement during pregnancy, maternal behavior, and infant mortality.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to identify paternal factors associated with infant mortality.

Keywords: Infant Mortality, Partner Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Doctoral Candidate in Maternal and Child Health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.