Very low birthweight in African American infants: the role of maternal exposure to interpersonal racial discrimination

Am J Public Health. 2004 Dec;94(12):2132-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.12.2132.


Objectives: We determined whether African American women's lifetime exposure to interpersonal racial discrimination is associated with pregnancy outcomes.

Methods: We performed a case-control study among 104 African American women who delivered very low birthweight (<1500 g) preterm (<37 weeks) infants and 208 African American women who delivered non-low-birthweight (>2500 g) term infants in Chicago, Ill.

Results: The unadjusted and adjusted odds ratio of very low birthweight infants for maternal lifetime exposure to interpersonal racism in 3 or more domains equaled 3.2 (95% confidence intervals=1.5, 6.6) and 2.6 (1.2, 5.3), respectively. This association tended to persist across maternal sociodemographic, biomedical, and behavioral characteristics.

Conclusions: The lifelong accumulated experiences of racial discrimination by African American women constitute an independent risk factor for preterm delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American* / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Prejudice*
  • Socioeconomic Factors