Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




London, Andrew S.


Race, body mass index, birth weight, immigrant health, maternal child health, Medical Sociology, racial health disparities

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health | Sociology


Black women in the United States occupy a unique position of disadvantage in our social strata. This dissertation explores the health consequences associated with race, nativity, and pre-pregnancy body mass index among Black and White women giving birth in the Central New York region using data from the 2004 through 2010 New York Statewide Perinatal Data System. It examines the likelihood of the occurrence of a preterm birth or low birth weight birth. This study also examines racial disparities in birth outcomes between Black women and White women overall in addition to nativity disparities in birth outcomes among Black women. This research finds that underweight, rather than obese, women are particularly at risk for poor birth outcomes. In addition, the idea of an obesity paradox is supported, in which obese women were significantly less likely than normal weight pre-pregnancy BMI women to have a baby born too early or too small. This research also reveals that comparable morbidity profiles among Black women eliminate the foreign-born advantage with regard to nativity disparities in low birth weight. Finally, differences in prenatal care counseling received and a lower amount of physical activity during pregnancy appears to eliminate the advantage that African women experience regarding low birth weight in comparison to U.S.-born Black women. In general, this dissertation addresses the embodiment of racial inequality and its adverse effects on health outcomes among Black women