Individual measures of socioeconomic status (SES) have been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects (NTDs); however, the association between neighborhood SES and NTD risk is unknown. Using data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) from 1997 to 2011, we investigated the association between measures of census tract SES and NTD risk.
The study population included 10,028 controls and 1829 NTD cases. We linked maternal addresses to census tract SES measures and used these measures to calculate the neighborhood deprivation index. We used generalized estimating equations to calculate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) estimating the impact of quartiles of census tract deprivation on NTDs adjusting for maternal race–ethnicity, maternal education, and maternal age at delivery.
Quartiles of higher neighborhood deprivation were associated with NTDs when compared with the least deprived quartile (Q2: aOR = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.0, 1.4; Q3: aOR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.1, 1.5; Q4 (highest): aOR = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.0, 1.4). Results for spina bifida were similar; however, estimates for anencephaly and encephalocele were attenuated. Associations differed by maternal race–ethnicity.
Our findings suggest that residing in a census tract with more socioeconomic deprivation is associated with an increased risk for NTDs, specifically spina bifida.