Skip to main content Accesibility Help



The present study aims at modelling the effects of maternal socio-demographic characteristics on the birth weight distribution in Greece. The analysis is based on nationwide vital registration micro-data; 103,266 single live births recorded in 2006 are considered. Quantile regression models, allowing for the effects of covariates to vary across the conditional distribution of the dependent variable, birth weight, are applied to preterm and term births separately. The statistical analysis shows that the effects of most factors differentiate across the birth weight distributions. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) coefficients, on the other hand, systematically underestimate effects at the lower tail and overestimate effects among heavier babies. Hence, quantile regression has a strong advantage over the OLS method. The findings also indicate that birth weight distributions of term and preterm infants are distinct and should be analysed separately. For both distributions female sex, primiparity, age of mother over 35 and prior history of stillbirths and child deaths are related to lower birth weight while higher educational attainment has a protective effect. Among term births, illegitimacy, living in big metropolitan areas and immigrant status of the mother are also significant predictors. For preterm births the impact of age of mother, parity and, in particular, prior stillbirths or deceased children is very pronounced.

Hide All
Abrevaya, J. (2001) The effects of demographics and maternal behavior on the distribution of birth outcomes. Empirical Economics 26, 247257.
Acevedo-Garcia, D., Soobader, M. J. & Berkman, L. F. (2007) Low birthweight among US Hispanic/Latino subgroups: the effect of maternal foreign-born status and education. Social Science & Medicine 6, 25032516.
Adams, M. M., Elam-Evans, L. D., Wilson, H. G. & Gilbertz, D. A. (2000) Rates of and factors associated with recurrence of preterm delivery. Journal of the American Medical Association 283, 15911596.
Astolfi, P. & Zonta, L. A. (1999) Risks of preterm delivery and association with maternal age, birth order and foetal gender. Human Reproduction 14(11), 28912894.
Barker, D. J. P. (1998) In utero programming of chronic disease. Clinical Science 95, 115128.
Bobak, M. (2000) Outdoor air pollution, low birth weight and prematurity. Environmental Health Perspectives 108, 173176.
Buchinsky, M. (1995) Estimating the asymptotic covariance matrix for quantile regression models: a Monte Carlo study. Journal of Econometrics 68, 303338.
Cheung, Y. B. & Yip, P. S. F. (2001) Social patterns of birth weight in Hong Kong, 1984–1997. Social Science & Medicine 52, 11351141.
Chiavarini, M., Bartolucci, F., Gili, A., Pieroni, L. & Minelli, L. (2012) Effects of individual and social factors on preterm birth and low birth weight: empirical evidence from regional data in Italy. International Journal of Public Health 57, 261268.
Chow, G. C. (1960) Tests of equality between sets of coefficients in two linear relations. Econometrica 28, 591605.
Dimelis, S. & Louri, H. (2002) Foreign ownership and production efficiency: a quantile regression analysis. Oxford Economic Papers 54, 449469.
Frisbie, W. P., Forbes, D. & Pullum, S. G. (1996) Compromised birth outcomes and infant mortality among racial and ethnic groups. Demography 33(4), 469481.
Huxley, R. R., Shiell, A. W. & Law, C. M. (2000) The role of size at birth and postnatal catch-up growth in determining systolic blood pressure: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of Hypertension 18, 815831.
Joseph, K. S., Kramer, M. S., Marcoux, L. S., Ohlsson, A., Wen, S. W., Allen, al. (1998) Determinants of secular trends in preterm births in Canada. New England Journal of Medicine 339, 14341439.
Kesmodel, U., Wisborg, K., Olsen, S. F., Henriksen, T. B. & Secher, N. J. (2002) Moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth and death in the first year of life. American Journal of Epidemiology 155, 305312.
Koenker, R. & Bassett, G. (1978) Regression quantiles. Econometrica 46, 3350.
Koenker, R. & Hallock, K. F. (2001) Quantile regression. Journal of Economic Perspectives 15(4), 143156.
Kramer, M. S. (1987) Determinants of low birth weight: methodological assessment and meta-analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 65(5), 663737.
Kramer, M. S. (1990) Birth weight and infant mortality: perceptions and pitfalls. Paediatric & Perinatal Epidemiology 4, 381390.
Kramer, M. S. (2003) The epidemiology of adverse pregnancy outcomes: an overview. Journal of Nutrition 133, 15921596S.
Kramer, M. S., Séguin, L., Lydon, J. & Goulet, L. (2000) Socio-economic disparities in pregnancy outcome: why do the poor fare so poorly? Paediatric & Perinatal Epidemiology 14, 194210.
Lee, B. E., Ha, E. H., Park, H. S., Kim, Y. J., Hong, Y. C., Kim, H. & Lee, J. T. (2003) Exposure to air pollution during different gestational phases contributes to risks of low birth weight. Human Reproduction 18(3), 638643.
McCormick, M. (1985) The contribution of low birth weight to infant mortality and childhood morbidity. New England Journal of Medicine 312(2), 8290.
Machado, C. J. (2006) Impact of maternal age on birth outcomes: a population-based study of primiparous Brazilian women in the city of Sao Paulo. Journal of Biosocial Science 38, 523535.
Maisonet, M., Correa, A., Misra, D. & Jaakkola, J. J. K. (2004) A review of the literature on the effects of ambient air pollution on fetal growth. Environmental Research 95, 106115.
Meggiolaro, S. (2009) Low birth weight and parental resources in Italy. Genus 65(1), 103121.
Mohsin, M., Wong, F., Bauman, A. & Bai, J. (2003) Maternal and neonatal factors influencing premature birth and low birth weight in Australia. Journal of Biosocial Science 35, 161174.
Mulder, E. J., Robles de Medina, P. G., Huizink, A. C., Van de Bergh, B. R., Buitelaar, J. K. & Visser, G. H. (2002) Prenatal maternal stress: effects on pregnancy and the (unborn) child. Early Human Development 70(1–2), 314.
National Center for Health Statistics (2005) Health, United States, 2005 with Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. NCHS Hyattsville, MD.
Parker, J. D., Schoendorf, K. C. & Kiely, J. L. (1994) Associations between measures of socioeconomic status and low birth weight, small for gestational age, and premature delivery in the United States. Annals of Epidemiology 4, 271278.
Pattenden, S., Dolk, H. & Vrijheid, M. (1999) Inequalities in low birth weight: parental social class, area deprivation, and “lone mother” status. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 53, 355358.
Reime, B., Ratner, P. A., Tomaselli-Reime, S. N., Kelly, A., Schuecking, B. A. & Wenzlaff, P. (2006) The role of mediating factors in the associations between social deprivation and low birth weight in Germany. Social Science & Medicine 62, 17311744.
Rodriguez, C., Regidor, E. & Gutierrez-Fisac, J. L. (1995) Low birth weight in Spain associated with sociodemographic factors. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 49, 3842.
Speer, C. P. & Gahr, M. (2001) Pädiatrie. Springer, Berlin.
Štrám, R. J., Binková, B., Dejmek, J. & Bobak, M. (2005) Ambient air pollution and pregnancy outcomes: a review of the literature. Environmental Health Perspectives 113(4), 375382.
Tsimbos, C. & Verropoulou, G. (2011) Demographic and socioeconomic determinants of low birth weight and preterm births among natives and immigrants in Greece: an analysis using nationwide vital registration micro-data. Journal of Biosocial Science 43, 271283.
Umbach, D. M. & Wilcox, A. J. (1996) A technique for measuring epidemiologically useful features of birthweight distribution. Statistics in Medicine 15, 13331348.
WHO (2004) Low Birthweight: Country, Regional and Global Estimates. UNICEF, United Nations Children's Fund and World Health Organization, New York.
Wilcox, A. J. (2001) On the importance – and the unimportance – of birthweight. International Journal of Epidemiology 30, 12331241.
Wilcox, A. J. & Russell, I. T. (1983) Birthweight and perinatal mortality: II. On weight-specific mortality. International Journal of Epidemiology 12(3), 319325.
Windham, G., Hopkins, B., Fenster, L. & Swan, S. (2000) Prenatal active or passive tobacco smoke exposure and the risk of preterm delivery or low birth weight. Epidemiology 11(4), 427433.
Wingate, M. S. & Alexander, G. R. (2006) The healthy migrant theory: variations in pregnancy outcomes among US-born migrants. Social Science & Medicine 62, 491498.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Biosocial Science
  • ISSN: 0021-9320
  • EISSN: 1469-7599
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-biosocial-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed