Social and cultural factors in pregnancy complications among navajo women

W. Thomas Boyce, Catherine Schaefer, H. Robert Harrison, William H.J. Haffner, Marguerite Lewis, Anne L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A population of 968 pregnant Navajo women was followed in a prospective study conducted from 1980 to 1983 at the Indian Health Service Hospitals in Gallup and Crownpoint, New Mexico. The purpose of the study was to examine social and cultural influences on obstetric and neonatal complications. The extent of traditional cultural practices and the availabilty of social support were ascertained in structured interviews completed during each woman's first prenatal visit. In a subsample of women, the occurrence of stressful life events was also measured during a final prenatal visit in the third trimester of pregnancy. Controlling for a variety of conventional risk factors and other potential confounders, traditional women sustained complications at a rate greater than twice that of the least traditional, most acculturated women (approximate relative risk=2.1; p=0.001). Social support and life events were modestly associated with maternal complications (approximate relative risk=0.7, 0.8, respectively; p=0.07), with poorer outcomes found among those with low social support and low numbers of life events. It is proposed that the relationship of maternal complications to all three sociocultural variables-traditionality, social support and life events-may reflect the influences of social isolation on the course and outcomes of pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-253
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1986


  • Acculturation
  • Pregnacy complications
  • Psychological
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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