Study: Newport ranks high in prenatal care, low birth weights

Newport Beach women rank No. 1 in Orange County when it comes to obtaining prenatal care, but also rank highest for low birth weights, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency report.

The study found that 96.2% of Newport Beach women received prenatal care between 2006 and 2008 — the highest in the county — but 8.8% of infants born during the same time period had low birth weight, higher than the countywide rate of 6.4%, the state's 6.9% and the nation's 8.2%.

The possible cause of low birth weight babies in Newport Beach may be a two-pronged issue, said Diplomat on the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Daily Pilot's Doctor's Corner Dr. Jane Bening.

While the results of the study were surprising, Bening said it's possible that younger women in Newport Beach may have lower body weight or addiction problems that can contribute to low birth weight, while older women getting pregnant are less likely to have robust pregnancies.

Also, older women who use assisted reproduction sometimes have multiple pregnancies at once, which brings down birth weight. Many minority communities face obesity problems, and women who weigh more will more likely have babies that weigh more, Bening said.

The agency, along with others, collected the data on a variety of topics to highlight the differences in lifestyles and healthfulness in some communities, and act as a guide for people who may want to change their habits, according to Amy Buch, OCHCA health promotion division manager.

Costa Mesa and Irvine have the lowest commute times, at 22 minutes. Newport Beach wasn't far behind with 23 minutes.

Those who take longer to get to and from work are more likely to be stressed and will have less time to exercise, the report said.

One study cited in the health care agency's report found that every hour of commute time a day may increase obesity risk by 6%.

Newport Beach is also home to the fewest number of people — 41% between 2007 and 2009 — spending 30% or more of their incomes on rent.

Costa Mesa ranked higher than the national average, but lower than state and county levels of rent burden, with 51% of people spending 30% or more on their rent.

Both cities topped the list in the number of bicycle accidents, with Newport Beach ranking highest at 109 injuries per 100,000 people between 2006 and 2008.

Costa Mesa was second with 76 injuries per 100,000 people during the same period. The county average for bike injuries was 34 per 100,000 and 29 per 100,000 in California.

The OCHCA worked with the Orange County Children and Families Commission, Social Services Agency, Orange County Department of Education and UC Irvine to create the study.

For more on teen drinking and smoking, life expectancy and number of residents with health insurance visit

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