Background Adverse pregnancy outcomes are associated with higher cardiovascular disease risk among mothers and future health problems of offspring. Neighbourhood crime may contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes by increasing chronic stress, yet the association has been relatively understudied.
Methods Electronic health records from 34 383 singleton births at a single hospital in Chicago (2009–2013) were geocoded and linked to 1-year rates of police-recorded crime at the neighbourhood (Chicago community area) level. Crimes included homicide, assault/battery, criminal offences and incivilities. Cross-sectional associations of total neighbourhood crime rates with hypertensive disease of pregnancy (HDP: pre-eclampsia/gestational hypertension), preterm birth (PTB), spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) birth were assessed using multilevel logistic regression with community-area random intercepts. Models controlled for maternal and infant characteristics and neighbourhood poverty. We then assessed associations between individual crime categories and all outcomes.
Results Total neighbourhood crime rates ranged from 11.6 to 303.5 incidents per 1000 persons per year (mean: 61.5, SD: 40.3). A 1-SD higher total neighbourhood crime rate was associated with higher odds of HDP (OR: 1.06, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.13), PTB (OR: 1.09, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.15), sPTB (OR: 1.09, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.16) and SGA (OR: 1.05, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.10) in fully adjusted models. Associations were generally consistent across crime categories, although only assault/battery and incivilities were associated with HDP.
Conclusions Higher neighbourhood crime rates were associated with small but significant increases in the odds of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Interventions that cultivate safer neighbourhoods may be a promising approach for improving pregnancy outcomes.
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Contributors SLM designed the study, analysed the data, interpreted results and drafted the article. LRP contributed to data acquisition, interpretation of results and critically revised the article. WAG contributed to interpretation of results and critically revised the article. KNK contributed to study design, data acquisition, interpretation of results and critically revised the article. All authors approved the final version for publication.
Funding This research was supported by an NHLBI training grant in cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention (award number T32HL069771).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case.
Ethics approval Northwestern University IRB.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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