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Father involvement in pregnancy could reduce infant mortality
Date:6/17/2010

Tampa, FL (June 17, 2010) -- Studies have shown fathers who are active in their children's upbringing can significantly benefit their children's early development, academic achievement and well being. Now, a new study by University of South Florida researchers suggests that a father's involvement before his child is born may play an important role in preventing death during the first year of life particularly if the infant is black.

The USF team sought to evaluate whether the absence of fathers during pregnancy contributes to racial and ethnic disparities in infant survival and health. Their findings were recently reported online in the Journal of Community Health.

"Our study suggests that lack of paternal involvement during pregnancy is an important and potentially modifiable risk factor for infant mortality," concluded the study's lead author Amina Alio, PhD, research assistant professor of community and family health at the USF College of Public Health. "A significant proportion of infant deaths could be prevented if fathers were to become more involved."

The researchers examined the records of all births in Florida from 1998 to 2005 more than 1.39 million live births. Father involvement was defined by the presence of the father's name on the infant's birth certificate. While this measure does not assess the extent or quality of a father's involvement during pregnancy, other studies have established a link between paternal information on a birth record and prenatal paternal involvement.

Among the study's findings:

  • Infants with absent fathers were more likely to be born with lower birth weights, to be preterm and small for gestational age.

  • Regardless of race or ethnicity, the neonatal death rate of father-absent infants was nearly four times that of their counterparts with involved fathers.

  • The risk of poor birth outcomes was highest for infants born to bla
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert  

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