Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen M. Baker

Second Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Ofori-Amoah

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veeck


low birth weight, GIS, maternal health, infant health, heal disparities

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Infants with low birth weight due to early delivery or fetal growth restriction face an increased risk of health conditions and deaths. These risk factors and the cost associated with healthcare for infants makes low birth weight a major public health problem. Understanding early precursor challenges expectant mothers face before delivery would help in planning interventions to reduce low birth weight among infants.

This study investigated and evaluated the spatial variation of low birth weight incidence with respect to socioeconomic status, housing types and accessibility in Kalamazoo County. In a broader scope, this research study examined the geographic patterns of low birth weight cases and calibrated factors responsible for disparities among different populations considering individual maternal characteristics and block group level characteristics. This research study was conducted at a local scale to plan interventions to reduce disparities in low birth weight in the urban-rural continuum of Kalamazoo County.

The study found that at the individual level, low birth weight was associated with race, age, educational status, and Medicaid insurance of mothers. Young women (less than 20 years), women with less than high school education, blacks, and women with Medicaid insurance are more likely to have infants with low birth weight. At the block group level, there was high incidence of low birth weight rates for block groups with low socioeconomic status and high renter occupied units. Spatial distribution map of low birth weight showed high incidence of low birth weight rates for block groups in rural areas with high population density of whites.

Included in

Geography Commons