Sustainability and Social Justice

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science in GIS for Development and Environment (GISDE)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger


GIS, Birth Outcomes, Spatio-Temporal, Massachusetts


This study explores spatio-temporal trends and patterns in adverse birth outcomes (ABO) in the state of Massachusetts from 2000-2014. ABO include low birth weight (< 2500 g) and preterm deliveries (gestational age < 37 weeks). This research evaluates if there are areas in Massachusetts that have experienced statistically significant increases or decreases in ABO throughout the study period. Birth data was obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and only singleton, live births were included for the analysis. The data were aggregated to census tracts, and the total number of births and the number of ABOs were calculated for each census tract for each year. In total, 1478 census tracts were included in this analysis. Births to non-Hispanic black mothers and births to non-Hispanic white mothers were separated to evaluate if trends in ABO are similar regardless of race as previous literature has identified a much higher rate of ABO in births to non-Hispanic black women. Trends and patterns of ABO were evaluated using the Space Time Cube and the Mann-Kendall statistic and a multivariate regression was conducted to identify potential correlations between socioeconomic factors and prevalence of ABO. Results of this study can be used to identify areas that are experiencing an increase in ABO to potentially allow for more effective, targeted intervention methods.



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