The Transition to Motherhood: Childbearing and Subsequent Body Mass Index
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this research is: 1) to advance our understanding of the impact early childbearing may have on becoming obese among US women; and 2) to determine if earlier age at first birth among minority women may contribute to their higher prevalence of obesity relative to white women. Analyses are conducted with data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). There are three specific aims: 1: Describe how allostatic load provides a framework to understand the contributions of reproductive events to body mass index (BMI) over the life course. 2: Determine the impact of the transition to motherhood on BMI. 3: Determine if the association between the transition to motherhood and subsequent BMI differs by age at first birth and minority status. Chapter three completes specific aim one by presenting the conceptual basis for the pathways connecting childbearing, obesity and stress. It describes the manner in which these linkages may contribute to obesity disparities among women in the US. Chapter four completed specific aim two. It examines the association of the transition to motherhood with a woman’s BMI. Evidence supports a relation between parity and an increase in BMI (p<0.004, 95%CI: 0.23, 1.12). Chapter five completes specific aim three by examining associations of obesity with age at first birth and minority status. Results suggest that for each year beyond age 15 that a woman’s first birth is delayed, BMI decreases by 0.20 units (p<0.001; 95%CI: -0.34, -0.06). Age at first birth was most strongly associated with BMI among the youngest group of women. Women who experienced their first birth at 21 years or younger had a BMI five units greater than women who delayed childbearing until at least 30 years (5.02; p=0.02, 95%CI: 0.65, 9.40). Evidence from these analyses support a positive association between childbearing and increasing BMI. Findings suggest the most substantial impact occurs with the first birth and among women who experience the transition to motherhood at 21 years or younger.