The purpose was to examine the association between paternal race/ethnicity and very low birth weight stratified by maternal race/ethnicity.
Birth data for Tarrant County, Texas 2006–2010 were analyzed. Very low birth weight was dichotomized as yes (<1,500 g) and no (≥1,500 g). Paternal race/ethnicity was categorized as Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, other, and missing. Missing observations (14.7%) were included and served as a proxy for fathers absent during pregnancy. Potential confounders included maternal age, education, and marital status, plurality, previous preterm birth, sexually transmitted disease during pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, and Kotelchuck Index of prenatal care. Logistic regressions were stratified by maternal race/ethnicity. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Of 145,054 births, 60,156 (41.5%) were Caucasian, 22,306 (15.4%) African American, 54,553 (37.6%) Hispanic, and 8,039 (5.5%) other mothers. There were 2,154 (1.5%) very low birth weights total, with 3.1% for African American mothers and 1.2% for all other race/ethnicities. Among Caucasian mothers, African American paternal race was associated with increased odds of very low birth weight (OR = 1.52; 95% CI:1.08-2.14). Among Hispanic mothers, African American paternal race (OR = 1.66; 95% CI:1.01-2.74) and missing paternal race/ethnicity (OR = 1.65; 95% CI:1.15-2.36) were associated with increased odds of very low birth weight.
Paternal race/ethnicity is an important predictor of very low birth weight among Caucasian and Hispanic mothers. Future research should consider paternal race/ethnicity and further explore the association between paternal characteristics and very low birth weight.