Preterm birth (PTB; <37 weeks gestation) is a high-priority population health issue, yet scholars have yet to explain why the majority of preterm births occur. Most studies examine prenatal risk factors, although pregnancy may be “too little, too late” in terms of delivering an intervention. This study explores, for the first time, risk factors within the preconception neighborhood environment. We devise a new approach to identify preconception neighborhoods within population-level data: we link consecutive births across mothers in California (2005-2010), geocode mother’s home address at each birth, and append Census data. The neighborhood at the time of sibling 1’s birth is defined as the preconception neighborhood for sibling 2. Thus, our approach transforms administrative data into prospective data. Grounded in life course epidemiology theory, we test a chains of risk model and find that sustained exposure to deleterious neighborhood environments (from the preconception period through birth) increases offspring’s PTB risk.
Presented in Session 26. Flash Session: Neighborhood Processes in Health