142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Food Matters: Food Insecurity and Birth Outcomes Among Young, Urban Women of Color

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stephanie Grilo, B.A. , School of Public Health, Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, CT
Valerie A. Earnshaw, Ph.D. , Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Shayna Cunningham, PhD , School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Jessica Lewis , Yale University, New Haven, CT
Jonathan N. Tobin, PhD , Department of Medical Education, Clinical Directors Network, Inc. (CDN), New York, NY
Jeannette R. Ickovics, PhD , School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Low birth weight and preterm birth – even within normal ranges – are associated with poor health outcomes in infancy and childhood and persist into adulthood.


The purpose of this study is to: (1) examine if food insecurity is associated with adverse birth outcomes among young, urban women of color; and (2) determine whether depressive symptoms, anxiety, nutrition and/or weight gain mediate this association. 


The analytic sample included 881 women (14-21 years old), who completed measures of food insecurity and potential mediators during second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Birth weight and gestational age were recorded from medical records.


Over one-half of the sample reported food insecurity:  26.1% acute (one point in pregnancy), and 26.6% chronic (two points in pregnancy). Path analyses demonstrated that food insecurity was associated with lower birth weight and earlier gestational age. Depressive symptoms mediated these associations. 


Women who were food insecure experienced more depressive symptoms, and these depressive symptoms predicted risk of adverse birth outcomes, including lower infant birth weight and earlier gestational age. These birth outcomes are associated with poorer infant health; therefore, addressing food insecurity during pregnancy may increase the chances that children are born healthier.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the difference between being food insecure and food secure. Describe the implications of food insecurity on birth outcomes. Understand differential benefits of group prenatal care depending on food security status.

Keyword(s): Maternal and Child Health, Food Security

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research assistant at the Yale School of Public Health working on NIH and Medical Foundation funded studies on women's 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.