This dissertation examined risk factors for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) — specifically whether neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation exacerbates individual socioeconomic disadvantage (deprivation amplification) to increase the likelihood of developing HDP. To select the optimal areal unit at which to investigate HDP, geographic proxies for neighborhoods were explored.
A thematic review qualitatively examined nontraditional neighborhood boundaries identified through internet sources. Data from 2008–2012 Miami-Dade County, Florida birth records (n=121,421) and the U.S. Census Bureau were used for the remaining analyses. Ordinary least squares (OLS) and geographically weighted regression (GWR) analysis empirically compared the proportion of HDP prevalence explained by six areal units: census block groups, census tracts, ZIP code tabulation areas (ZCTAs), and three types of natural neighborhood — census units clustered based on an eight-item Neighborhood Deprivation Index. Multilevel logistic regression examined relationships between HDP, neighborhood deprivation, and individual-level factors. Odds ratios (OR) and adjusted odds ratios (aOR) were calculated.
The thematic review found 22 potential alternatives to census boundaries developed through techniques such as crowd-sourcing and qualitative research. In the sensitivity analysis, census tracts aggregated at the scale of ZCTAs performed twice as well as any other model (GWR2 = 0.27) and were used as the Aim 3 unit of analysis. In the multilevel logistic regression, HDP was associated with moderate (aOR=1.13; CI: 1.05, 1.21) and high neighborhood deprivation (aOR=1.16; CI: 1.07, 1.26).
Compared with mothers with private insurance, uninsured women (aOR=1.69; CI: 1.56, 1.84) and Medicaid recipients (aOR=1.12; CI: 1.05, 1.18) had higher HDP odds. Non-Hispanic Black women’s HDP odds were 1.58 times those of non-Hispanic White women. Cross-level interactions — between neighborhood deprivation and educational attainment and neighborhood deprivation and insurance status — did not reach statistical significance.
Private sector neighborhood boundaries hold promise for developing new public health tools. Because they are relatively easy to generate from census data, natural neighborhoods may balance tradition and innovation. While no evidence of deprivation amplification was found, results suggested that individual-level and neighborhood deprivation are HDP risk factors. Interventions that target expectant mothers in deprived neighborhoods — particularly non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women who lack health insurance — may help reduce HDP prevalence and disparities.