Black Preterm Birth Risk in Nonblack Neighborhoods: Effects of Hispanic, Asian, and Non-Hispanic White Ethnic Densities

Susan M. Mason, Jay S. Kaufman, Julie L. Daniels, Michael E. Emch, Vijaya K. Hogan, David A. Savitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: Studies of ethnic density and health in the United States have documented poorer health outcomes among black individuals living in black compared with nonblack neighborhoods, but few studies have considered the identities of the populations in nonblack neighborhoods. Methods: New York City birth records from 1995 through 2003 and a spatial measure of ethnic density were used to examine preterm birth risks among non-Hispanic black women associated with non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, Asian, and non-Hispanic black neighborhood densities. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the effect on black preterm birth risks of replacing white neighbors with Hispanic, Asian, and black neighbors. Risk differences were computed for changes from the 10th to the 90th percentiles of ethnic density. Results: Increasing Hispanic density was associated with reduced preterm birth risks among non-Hispanic black women, especially if the black women were foreign-born (RD = -19.1 per 1,000 births; 95% confidence interval. -28.6 to -9.5). Estimates for increasing Asian density were null. Increasing black density was associated with increasing black preterm birth risk, with a threshold at greater levels of black density. Conclusions: The low risks of preterm birth among foreign-born non-Hispanic black women in majority-Hispanic neighborhoods may be related to protective psychosocial or lifestyle and warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-638
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Research Dissertation Grant 1R36DP001849-01 .


  • Confidence Interval
  • Preterm Birth
  • Risk Difference
  • United States


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