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A Bayesian growth mixture model to examine maternal hypertension and birth outcomes


Brian Neelon, Children's Environmental Health Initiative, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, U.S.A.



Maternal hypertension is a major contributor to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth (PTB) and low birth weight (LBW). Although several studies have explored the relationship between maternal hypertension and fetal health, few have examined how the longitudinal trajectory of blood pressure, considered over the course of pregnancy, affects birth outcomes. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian growth mixture model to jointly examine the associations between longitudinal blood pressure measurements, PTB, and LBW. The model partitions women into distinct classes characterized by a mean arterial pressure (MAP) curve and joint probabilities of PTB and LBW. Each class contains a unique mixed effects model for MAP with class-specific regression coefficients and random effect covariances. To account for the strong correlation between PTB and LBW, we introduce a bivariate probit model within each class to capture residual within-class dependence between PTB and LBW. The model permits the association between PTB and LBW to vary by class, so that for some classes, PTB and LBW may be positively correlated, whereas for others, they may be uncorrelated or negatively correlated. We also allow maternal covariates to influence the class probabilities via a multinomial logit model. For posterior computation, we propose an efficient MCMC algorithm that combines full-conditional Gibbs and Metropolis steps. We apply our model to a sample of 1027 women enrolled in the Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby Study, a prospective cohort study of host, social, and environmental contributors to disparities in pregnancy outcomes. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.