Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



There are anecdotal accounts about the possible impact of a pregnant woman's mental health on her unborn fetus. This thesis investigates the possible association between hurricane-related stress experienced by pregnant women living in the area afflicted by Hurricane Andrew in Louisiana in 1992 and poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm and Low Birth Weight (LBW) births. This is an important topic of research because by investigating past events one can better understand the pregnancy-related health issues for areas affected by extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This research analyzed birth data from Louisiana both before and after Hurricane Andrew. Two areas were compared: the area affected by the hurricane and a non-affected area. The affected area was within the hurricane-force winds zone, suffered damage, and had an order or recommendation to evacuate. The non-affected area was used as a control; it was outside of the hurricane's track, sustained no damage, and it had no mandatory evacuation order. Analogous statistical analyses were used to analyze birth data for both areas, namely, Chi-squared analysis, which was applied to find if there were statistically significant changes in the number of LBW and preterm deliveries for the periods following the hurricane compared to a period preceding Hurricane Andrew, which was considered a baseline for the analysis. Results of the analyses have shown that hurricane-related stress while affecting preterm births, does not seem to have the same affect on LBW deliveries. Ultimately, this research will lessen the negative health impact of the hurricanes, which in turn will lessen the economic burden on a society by decreasing total medical costs associated with caring for LBW and preterm babies.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Andrew Curtis