The impact of low birth weight and maternal age on adulthood offending

Jamie C. Vaske, Jamie Newsome, Danielle L. Boisvert, Alex R. Piquero, Angela D. Paradis, Stephen L. Buka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The current study examines the relationship between low birth weight and adult offending, and whether maternal age at childbirth moderates this relationship. Methods: Using longitudinal data from mothers and offspring from the Providence sample of the Collaborative Perinatal Project, multivariate logistic regression models were used to study the relationship between low birth weight and adulthood arrest by maternal age. Results: Offspring born at low birth weight were at an increased risk of adult arrest, but only if they were born to adolescent (and not adult) mothers. These results remained while controlling for preterm delivery, number of cigarettes smoked during pregnancy, mothers' marital status, socioeconomic status, African American race, gender, and court contact during adolescence. Conclusions: Results highlight the importance of considering the moderating role of maternal age at childbirth, and underscore the notion that the adverse effect of a child born at low birth weight-with respect to crime-can be exacerbated if the child is born to a young mother but lessened or even ameliorated if born to an older mother. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

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