Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Chester Jones


Low birth weight (LBW) is a leading cause of infant mortality globally, but it disproportionately burdens the Black community in the United States, with a rate twice that of White women. Further, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDsP) increase LBW incidence. The purpose of the study was to assess the association between HDsP and LBW, maternal race and LBW, and the moderation effect of HDsP on race and LBW on Black and White women in Virginia. The theoretical framework for this study was based on the lifecourse health development model, which states that health should be viewed as an outcome of factors that function within the biological, psychological/behavioral, socioeconomic, and genetic contexts that change as a person develops. This quantitative study used sample data from the 2019 Virginia Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring Survey to perform correlation and regression analyses. The results showed a statistically significant relationship between HDsP and LBW among non-Hispanic Black and White women in Virginia, meaning Black women were more likely than White women to have a LBW newborn. Adjusting for confounding variables, Black women with HDsP were 2.43 times more likely to have a LBW newborn compared to women who did not experience HDsP. Findings from this study illuminate the importance of bringing health equity to the forefront in public health practice. The findings from this study also support positive social change through the growing body of public health research that shows racial disparities of health should be viewed from a lens of holism with social justice being key in any equation.