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.