Associations between the quality of the residential built environment and pregnancy outcomes among women in North Carolina.
BACKGROUND: The built environment, a key component of environmental health, may be an important contributor to health disparities, particularly for reproductive health outcomes. OBJECTIVE: In this study we investigated the relationship between seven indices of residential built environment quality and adverse reproductive outcomes for the City of Durham, North Carolina (USA). METHODS: We surveyed approximately 17,000 residential tax parcels in central Durham, assessing > 50 individual variables on each. These data, collected using direct observation, were combined with tax assessor, public safety, and U.S. Census data to construct seven indices representing important domains of the residential built environment: housing damage, property disorder, security measures, tenure (owner or renter occupied), vacancy, crime count, and nuisance count. Fixed-slope random-intercept multilevel models estimated the association between the residential built environment and five adverse birth outcomes. Models were adjusted for maternal characteristics and clustered at the primary adjacency community unit, defined as the index block, plus all adjacent blocks that share any portion of a line segment (block boundary) or vertex. RESULTS: Five built environment indices (housing damage, property disorder, tenure, vacancy, and nuisance count) were associated with each of the five outcomes in the unadjusted context: preterm birth, small for gestational age (SGA), low birth weight (LBW), continuous birth weight, and birth weight percentile for gestational age (BWPGA; sex-specific birth weight distributions for infants delivered at each gestational age using National Center for Health Statistics referent births for 2000-2004). However, some estimates were attenuated after adjustment. In models adjusted for individual-level covariates, housing damage remained statistically significantly associated with SGA, birth weight, and BWPGA. CONCLUSION: This work suggests a real and meaningful relationship between the quality of the residential built environment and birth outcomes, which we argue are a good measure of general community health.
Miranda, ML; Messer, LC; Kroeger, GL
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