Association of missing paternal demographics on infant birth certificates with perinatal risk factors for childhood obesityedit
The role of fathers in the development of obesity in their offspring remains poorly understood. We evaluated associations of missing paternal demographic information on birth certificates with perinatal risk factors for childhood obesity. Data were from the Linked CENTURY Study, a database linking birth certificate and well-child visit data for 200,258 Massachusetts children from 1980–2008. We categorized participants based on the availability of paternal age, education, or race/ethnicity and maternal marital status on the birth certificate: (1) pregnancies missing paternal data; (2) pregnancies involving unmarried women with paternal data; and (3) pregnancies involving married women with paternal data. Using linear and logistic regression, we compared differences in smoking during pregnancy, gestational diabetes, birthweight, breastfeeding initiation, and ever recording a weight for length (WFL) ≥ the 95th percentile or crossing upwards ≥2 WFL percentiles between 0–24 months among the study groups. Results 11,989 (6.0 %) birth certificates were missing paternal data; 31,323 (15.6 %) mothers were unmarried. In adjusted analyses, missing paternal data was associated with lower birthweight (β -0.07 kg; 95 % CI: −0.08, −0.05), smoking during pregnancy (AOR 4.40; 95 % CI: 3.97, 4.87), non-initiation of breastfeeding (AOR 0.39; 95 % CI: 0.36, 0.42), and with ever having a WFL ≥ 95th percentile (AOR 1.10; 95 % CI: 1.01, 1.20). Similar associations were noted for pregnancies involving unmarried women with paternal data, but differences were less pronounced. Missing paternal data on the birth certificate is associated with perinatal risk factors for childhood obesity. Efforts to understand and reduce obesity risk factors in early life may need to consider paternal factors.