Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

First Advisor

Nina Lam


Infant low birthweight rate in East Baton Rouge Parish is higher compared to the nation. Cancer is one of the most serious health problems in Louisiana. A few studies have indicated a relationship between the two health outcomes and their environment, but conclusions from these studies have not always been consistent. The spatial and temporal scales of the data and the methods used in these studies contribute to the inconsistent and uncertain results. The spatial patterns of infant low birthweight and cancer mortality in East Baton Rouge Parish from 1993 to 1996 and their relationships with environmental factors at three geographic scales (census blocks, block group, and tract) were investigated. Spatial clusterings of each health outcome were tested using spatial autocorrelation and correlograms, scan statistic, and geographic analysis machine. In searching for the presence of geographical clues for cancer mortality, this study revealed that male lung cancer exhibited significant positive spatial autocorrelation and there was geographically distinct cluster of black male lung cancer deaths in the western part of the parish. Stepwise regression analyses revealed that the spatial clusters were characterized by low per capita income and high percentage of persons below poverty. Spatial correlogram results suggested that infant low birthweight have significant positive spatial autocorrelation at the census tract scale. Both cluster detection techniques resulted in the same spatial clusters, which were centered in the Midwestern part of the parish. The clusters were characterized by low per capita income, high percentage of population below poverty, low median value house, and low median rent. The logistic regression analysis results show that infant low birthweight was associated with race, sex of the newborn, age, marital status, gestation, prenatal visits, multiple birth, and tobacco use. When comparing across spatial scales, there were no considerable variations of the geographic area of the most likely clusters of infant low birthweight. For black male lung cancer, there was a minor variation of the geographic area of the most likely dusters among the two scales, though the clusters were generally located at the south of the petrochemical manufacturing corridor along the Mississippi River.