By age 5, more than 10% of US children are obese and children from ethnic minority groups and more disadvantaged circumstances are disproportionately affected. While evidence exists that risk factors during pregnancy and early life are associated with childhood obesity, potential confounding in observational studies and small, restricted samples present challenges to infer causation. There is debate about the extent to which these relationships apply to all racial/ethnic groups. Policies enacted to support healthy behaviors may actually increase disparities in the risk factors for obesity if they are adopted only by mothers from certain racial/ethnic groups or more advantaged groups. Few studies have addressed this concern. This K99/R00 award will provide an opportunity for the PI to build on her background in epidemiology and acquire training in causal inference, policy evaluation, and translating research into policy through formal courses and mentorship by an interdisciplinary group of renowned scholars. The overarching goals of this K award are to clarify peri- and post-natal risk factors for disparities in childhood obesity and to examine the effects of policies on disparities in these risk factors. This program of research will move forward the field of obesity prevention by maximizing the utility of public data through data linkage, integrating analytic techniques from economics and epidemiology to infer causality, understanding influences on racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities, and identifying policy drivers for behavior change. The PI will create a dataset of 215,000 children by linking Massachusetts birth certificate data to an electronic database of well-child visits. During the mentored phase of the award (K99), the PI will examine disparities in maternal smoking during pregnancy, excessive gestational weight gain, and breastfeeding as well as examine the associations between these risk factors and adiposity-related outcomes at ages 2 and 5 years. During the independent phase of the award (R00), the PI will examine the influence of policies on the prevalence and racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in these risk factors, focusing on recent changes in tobacco control policies and gestational weight gain recommendations. Policies and programs for early childhood obesity prevention both in Massachusetts and nationally will be assessed to determine the extent to which factors during pregnancy and early life are included. The PI will present the findings from this program of research to policy makers in state government and help identify areas for future obesity prevention strategies. The PI will submit an R01 application during the fourth year of the award to continue to pursue these methods and interdisciplinary collaborations with the aim of pushing forward the research agenda on disparities in maternal and child health.

Public Health Relevance

The aims of the program of research in this K99/R00 award are to address racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences in perinatal and postnatal risk factors for childhood obesity and identify policy drivers for behavior change. The results will be presented to policy makers in state government to help identify areas for future obesity prevention strategies.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Type
Research Transition Award (R00)
Project #
5R00HD068506-04
Application #
8546245
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
Project Start
2011-09-01
Project End
2015-08-31
Budget Start
2013-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$229,659
Indirect Cost
$82,912
Name
Boston College
Department
None
Type
Other Domestic Higher Education
DUNS #
045896339
City
Chestnut Hill
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02467
Hawkins, Summer Sherburne; Stern, Ariel Dora; Baum, Christopher F et al. (2015) Evaluating the impact of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative on breast-feeding rates: a multi-state analysis. Public Health Nutr 18:189-97
Hawkins, Summer S; Dacey, Caitlin; Gennaro, Susan et al. (2014) Secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking pregnant women in New York City. Nicotine Tob Res 16:1079-84
Hawkins, Summer Sherburne; Baum, Christopher F (2014) Impact of state cigarette taxes on disparities in maternal smoking during pregnancy. Am J Public Health 104:1464-70
Edmonds, Joyce K; Hawkins, Summer S; Cohen, Bruce B (2014) The influence of detailed maternal ethnicity on cesarean delivery: findings from the U.S. birth certificate in the State of Massachusetts. Birth 41:290-8
Hawkins, Summer Sherburne; Baum, Christopher F; Oken, Emily et al. (2014) Associations of tobacco control policies with birth outcomes. JAMA Pediatr 168:e142365
Hawkins, S S; Berkman, L (2014) Identifying infants at high-risk for second-hand smoke exposure. Child Care Health Dev 40:441-5
Hawkins, Summer Sherburne; Cohen, Bruce B (2014) Affordable Care Act standards for race and ethnicity mask disparities in maternal smoking during pregnancy. Prev Med 65:92-5
Hawkins, Summer Sherburne; Stern, Ariel Dora; Baum, Christopher F et al. (2014) Compliance with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and impact on breastfeeding rates. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 99:F138-43