Associations between small area crime rate and negative birth outcomes in Scotland
Clemens, T. & Dibben, C. (2013) BSPS Annual Conference 2013, University of Swansea, UK, 9 - 11 September 2013 [SLS]
Negative birth outcomes, which are important determinants of future child development, have been shown to be associated with both social and environmental characteristics of the mother’s area of residence. Air pollution has been identified as a key environmental factor but neighbourhood social stressors such as the prevalence of crime have remained relatively understudied. An important question is the extent to which area based characteristics exert an influence on birth outcomes independently of the individual socio-economic circumstances of the mother. This study examines the effect of small area crime rates in the mother’s place of residence for a number of birth outcomes (fetal development and risk of prematurity) with adjustment for a range of individual maternal characteristics including smoking. A sample of women was drawn from the nationally representative Scottish Longitudinal Study and births to these women (between 1994 and 2008) were identified through record linkage to maternity hospital admissions data. Maternal exposure to crime was estimated from the crime domain of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) at small area level (datazones). The association between crime rates and birth outcomes was estimated from multilevel linear and generalised linear models. The preliminary findings, generally, indicate a significant relationship between levels of recorded crime at the mother’s place of residence and negative birth outcomes which remain significant after adjustment for a range of important individual confounding effects. These findings add to the growing body of evidence highlighting the independent association between local area characteristics and negative birth outcomes.