The role of social determinants in explaining racial/ethnic disparities in perinatal outcomes

Pediatr Res. 2016 Jan;79(1-2):141-7. doi: 10.1038/pr.2015.199. Epub 2015 Oct 14.


In the United States, there continue to be significant racial/ethnic disparities in preterm birth (PTB) rates, infant mortality, and fetal mortality rates. One potential mediator of these disparities is social determinants of health, including individual socioeconomic factors; community factors such as crime, poverty, housing, and the racial/ethnic makeup of the community; and the physical environment. Previous work has identified statistically significant associations between each of these factors and adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, there are recent studies that provide new, innovative insights into this subject, including adding social determinant data to population-based datasets; exploring multiple constructs in their analysis; and examining environmental factors. The objective of this review will be to examine this recent research on the association of each of these sets of social determinants on racial/ethnic disparities PTB, infant mortality, and fetal mortality to highlight potential areas for targeted intervention to reduce these differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Parenting*
  • Racial Groups*
  • Social Behavior*
  • United States