Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Infant birth weight and length of gestation are associated with a variety of health outcomes for the infant. Birth weight, in particular, is most closely associated with neonatal and postneonatal mortality as well as a number of other health consequences.;The present study has considered some promising socio-environmental factors and their relationship to length of gestation and infant birth weight. These factors included social stressors, supportive relationships, self esteem and personal competence. As well, this study examined a potential intervening role for those variables in the relationship of maternal age and marital status with study outcomes.;The study group consisted of 204 women aged 19 years or less. Participants were referred to the study from the caseload of physicians in Middlesex and Elgin Counties. Two additional sources were also drawn upon; public health nurses and a newspaper advertisement. Each participant completed two questionnaires administered by an interviewer. The questionnaires were administered at two points in time. The first interview took place as soon as possible after the confirmation of pregnancy and the second occurred six weeks after delivery. Information was also abstracted from the hospital chart of the mother and the infant.;The relationships of the various measures with the study outcomes were examined using multiple regression analysis. The study findings showed that maternal age and marital status influenced infant birth weight only through their association with prenatal care, weight gain and alcohol consumption. It was also found that weight gain, prenatal care and alcohol consumption were related to infant birth weight directly and indirectly through length of gestation.;The variables of social support and personal resources were not related to length of gestation or infant birth weight. However, some suggestive evidence of a possible relationship between life event stress and infant birth weight was revealed.



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