USING A LIFE HISTORY FRAMEWORK TO UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOOD STRUCTURAL DETERIORATION AND ADVERSE BIRTH OUTCOMES

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Abstract

Life History Theory is a powerful framework for understanding how evolved functional adaptations to environmental conditions influence variation in significant life outcomes. Features indicating relatively high extrinsic mortality rates and unpredictability of future outcomes are associated with relatively faster life history strategies. Regulatory mechanisms that facilitated reproductive success in ancestral environments may contribute to adverse birth outcomes in modern technologically advanced populations. Adverse local environmental conditions may reduce maternal somatic investment in gestating offspring, consistent with long-term maternal interests. In this study, we demonstrated a relationship between neighborhood structural deterioration and adverse birth outcomes in Flint, Michigan, USA. We used Geographical Information Systems software to calculate the density of highly dilapidated structures, premature births, and low birth weight births in .25 mi2 areas. Controlling for parental education and type of health coverage, the degree of structural deterioration was associated with the concentration of premature births and low birth weight births.

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