TAMPA, Fla., June 21 (UPI) — The death rate during the first year of life for infants whose fathers are absent is nearly quadruple that of those with involved fathers, U.S. researchers say.
Researchers at Tampa’s University of South Florida suggest the benefit of paternal involvement may be greatest for infants born to African-American women. The babies lacking father involvement were seven times more likely to die in infancy than babies in the same situation born to Hispanic and white women.
The study, published in the Journal of Community Health, finds infants with absent fathers more likely to be born with lower birth weights.
“Our study suggests that lack of paternal involvement during pregnancy is an important and potentially modifiable risk factor for infant mortality,” lead author Amina Alio says in a statement.
Alio and colleagues examined all births recorded in Florida from 1998 to 2005 — more than 1.39 million live births. Father involvement — defined by the presence of the father’s name on the infant’s birth certificate — may not assess the extent/quality of involvement but the researchers said studies have established a link between paternal information on a birth record and prenatal paternal involvement.
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