Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Jeannette Ickovics


Objectives. To identify determinants of housing instability and to explore the association between housing instability and birth weight among pregnant teens and young mothers.

Methods. Participants included pregnant women ages 14-21 from fourteen community hospitals and community health centers in New York City (N=623). Data were collected via structured survey during the second trimester of pregnancy (14 to 24 weeks gestation, M=19.35, SD=3.20). Birth weight was obtained through labor and delivery logs. Housing instability was operationalized as 2 or more moves within the past year.

Results. More than one in four (28.5%) pregnant teens and young women in this sample reported housing instability. Factors that protected against housing instability were school enrollment, living with parents, parents as their main source of financial support, living in a single family home or apartment, food security, and not smoking during pregnancy (all p<.05). Even after adjusting for important clinical, behavioral and demographic factors typically associated with lower birth weight, housing instability was an important predictor of lower birth weight (P=.02).

Conclusions. Teens and young mothers with housing instability have lower birth weight infants. Future interventions should ensure that women are housing secure before, during and after pregnancy. Policies that are geared towards providing affordable housing are a major concern.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access