USF Study: Fathers' Involvement Lowers Infant Mortality Rate

Amina Alio
“The most surprising finding of the study was the depth of the disparities between African-Americans and other ethnicities," said lead study author Amina Alio.
TAMPA (2010-06-18) -

A USF study found babies whose fathers are absent during pregnancy are four times more likely to die in their first year of life. Those infants also are more likely to be born prematurely and with lower birth weights.

Researchers analyzed more than a million Florida birth records, defining "father involvement" as whether the dad's name appeared on the birth certificate. Previous studies have suggested a link between this and paternal involvement during pregnancy, although the extent of that involvement was unclear.

Amina Alio was the study's lead author. She said a dad's absence during pregnancy increases stress for the mother.

"And if you’re stressed more, you’re probably more likely to smoke during pregnancy," said Alio, research assistant professor of community and family health at the USF College of Public Health.

"Also, you may not be able to attend prenatal care sessions for other reasons. So your behavior during pregnancy will be different because of the stressors.”

The study also found infant mortality is seven times higher for black babies with uninvolved dads. Alio would like to raise more money to research why this is the case.

"But," she said, "we can guess that there are other stressors that impact African-American women."

Click here for an interview with Alio, including her thoughts on those new studies suggesting dads don't matter.

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