We analyzed 103,072 White and Black births in Chicago from the 1982 and 1983 Illinois vital records, using 1980 median family income of mother's census tract as an ecologic variable. Thirty-one percent of Blacks and 4 percent of Whites resided in census tracts with median family incomes ≤ $10,000/year. Only 2 percent of Black mothers, compared to 16 percent of White mothers, lived in areas where the median family income was greater than $25,000/year. Among Blacks with incomes ≤ $10,000/year, maternal age, education, and marital status had minimal predictive power on the incidence of low birthweight (LBW) infants. Among high-risk mothers in the poorest areas the proportion of LBW infants in Blacks and Whites was less divergent than in higher income areas. Independent of residential area, low-risk Whites had half the occurrence of LBW infants as Blacks. We conclude that the extremes of residential environments show dramatic racial disparity in prevalence, yet the few low-risk Blacks still do less well than low-risk Whites. Traditional risk factors do not completely explain racial differences in neonatal outcome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health