Race, racism, and racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes

Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jun;51(2):360-70. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e31816f28de.


While the biologic authenticity of race remains a contentious issue, the social significance of race is indisputable. The chronic stress of racism and the social inequality it engenders may be underlying social determinants of persistent racial disparities in health, including infant mortality, preterm delivery, and low birth weight. This article describes the problem of racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes; outlines the multidimensional nature of racism and the pathways by which it may adversely affect health; and discusses the implications for clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethnic Groups / psychology
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality / ethnology*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Maternal Health Services / standards
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors