Paternal involvement and support and risk of preterm birth: findings from the Boston birth cohort

Pamela J. Surkan, Liming Dong, Yuelong Ji, Xiumei Hong, Hongkai Ji, Mary Kimmel, Wan Yee Tang, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To investigate to what extent paternal involvement and support during pregnancy were associated with preterm (PTB) and small-for-gestational age (SGA) births. Methods: Using data from the Boston Birth Cohort (n = 7047), multiple logistic regression models were performed to estimate the log odds of either PTB or SGA birth, with paternal involvement, paternal social support, and family and friend social support variables as the primary independent variables. Results: About 10% of participating mothers reported their husbands not being involved or supportive during their pregnancies. Lack of paternal involvement was associated with 21% higher risk of PTB (OR = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.01–1.45). Similarly, lack of paternal support was borderline associated with PTB (OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 0.94–1.35). Also marginally significant, lack of paternal involvement (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 0.95–1.47) and father’s support (OR = 1.19, 95% CI: 0.96–1.48) were associated with higher odds of SGA birth. No associations were found between familial and friend support during pregnancy and PTB or SGA. Conclusions: Among predominantly low-income African Americans, lack of paternal involvement and lack of paternal support during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of PTB, and suggestive of SGA birth. These findings, if confirmed in future research, underscore the important role a father can play in reducing PTB and/or SGA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • Preterm birth
  • birth outcomes
  • paternal involvement
  • small-for-gestational age
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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