Objective To examine the association of father early engagement behaviors and infant low birth weight (LBW) among unmarried, urban couples. Methods Participants were from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth-cohort study of urban families. We conducted cross-sectional analyses of data from interviews with unmarried mothers and fathers (N = 2726) that took place at the time of their child’s birth. Early engagement behaviors were based on fathers’ self-report of whether during the pregnancy they gave mothers money to buy things for the baby, helped in other ways like providing transportation to prenatal clinics, and attended the birth. Results Most (68.9%) fathers engaged in all three early engagement behaviors; 22% engaged in 2 behaviors; and 9.1% engaged in 1 or 0 early engagement behaviors. LBW more than doubled when comparing infants of fathers who engaged in all three early engagement behaviors (9.6% predicted probability of LBW) to those fathers who engaged in no early engagement behaviors (over 22% predicted probability of LBW). Conclusion Infant and maternal health may benefit from intervention to encourage positive father engagement during pregnancy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Father–child relations
- Perinatal period