Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw

Second Advisor

Derrick Gordon


Few studies have evaluated the relationship between prenatal paternal support and adverse birth outcomes among young couples. Traditionally, paternal support has been measured based on pregnancy wantedness and the presence of the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. However, these indices may not capture key components of paternal support. The current study developed a paternal support index that expands the traditional view of parental support by incorporating other forms of support, including financial support, accompanying the mother to prenatal care visits, labor/birth classes, ultrasound appointments, and the father’s presence at the child’s birth. We examined its association with various birth outcomes controlling for known risk factors of adverse birth outcomes. We hypothesized that increased prenatal paternal support would reduce the risk of low birth weight birth, preterm birth, small for gestational age birth, and labor and delivery complications. The current study utilizes interview data collected from a longitudinal study on 296 young couples living in lower Connecticut. Multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to explore the relationship between the paternal support index and the outcome index, and separate logistic regression models were applied to understand the relationship between the paternal support index and preterm and low birth weight birth. Findings suggest that increased paternal support during pregnancy is significantly associated with higher risk of low birth weight birth, and more adverse birth outcomes. The risk of preterm birth was also associated with more prenatal paternal support, but was not significant. Results from the current study are not consistent with the existing literature on this topic. Further research should be conducted to better understand the mechanism through which paternal support during pregnancy works to impact birth outcomes, and how this mechanism might be different for young couples.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access