Here is a useful little nugget of information — an abstract describing a study that showed the protective effect of marriage for the health of newborn babies. The study concerned African American women and showed that the lowest risk for a low birth weight baby was found when marriage preceded childbirth for two generations.

This study used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) on
two generations of African American women who gave
birth from 1967 to 2005 to describe changing
relationships between marital status and low birth weight (LBW) across
the generations.
An increasing protection of marriage on infant LBW
across the two generations was found after adjusting for socioeconomic
and demographic confounding factors via (a)
logistic regression using generalized estimating equations, (b)
propensity score
analyses taking into account the differential
distribution of confounders across the generations, and (c) sensitivity
that adjusted for childhood health of the mother
prior to marriage. Intergenerational findings also suggest that marriage
across generations was most protective against
infant LBW; the lowest risk for LBW was found among women who were both
when they gave birth to their infants and had
mothers who were married at the time they themselves were born. 

Debbie S Barrington, “The Increasing Protection of Marriage on Infant Low Birth Weight Across Two Generations of African American Women,” 
of Family Issues

August 2010

vol. 31

no. 8

1041-106. Sage Journals Online.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet