Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Amelia Gavin Looks at Racial Discrimination, PTSD, and Preterm Birth Among African American Women

Posted: 1/28/2019 (CSDE Research)

Preterm birth is the most frequent cause of infant mortality among African American infants, who have three times the risk of preterm-related deaths than Non-Hispanic White infants. CSDE Affiliate Amelia Gavin, Associate Professor at the School of Social Work, is advancing our understanding of the increased risk of preterm birth among African American women. Her concept paper recently published in The Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice recommends actions to mitigate the impact of racial discrimination and PTSD on the preterm birth risk among African American women.

Prior studies on traditional prenatal risk factors have failed to explain the racial disparity in prenatal births, which may suggest that exposure to risk factors across the life-course must be examined. One potential life-course risk exposure is racial discrimination, which has been shown to influence the increased risk of preterm births among African American women, potentially due to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but further research is needed to understand this mechanism.

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