Race, prematurity and immaturity

Early Hum Dev. 2007 Dec;83(12):749-54. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.09.003. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


Compared to white Europeans, Blacks and South Asians have a significantly shorter mean gestational length and a higher incidence of preterm birth. For any given gestational age before 37 weeks, Black and South Asian babies have less risk of respiratory distress syndrome, and the survival rate in Black babies is higher than white Europeans. From 37 weeks of gestation onwards, the perinatal mortality rate in Blacks is higher than in white Europeans, and this appears to be associated with a higher rate of meconium passage and respiratory morbidity. In full term South Asian babies, the late gestation rise in antepartum stillbirth occurs one week earlier than in white Europeans. These patterns remained significant even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors. This suggests that fetal maturity occurs earlier in gestation in Blacks and South Asians when compared to white European babies.

MeSH terms

  • England
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Racial Groups*