Providence Journal Examines Pre-Term Birth Rate Among Black Women

March 3, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

The Providence Journal on Sunday examined possible reasons for a high pre-term birth rate among black women.

According to the Journal, socioeconomic factors were thought to be the main cause of higher pre-term birth rates among black women, many of whom have low incomes, little education and fewer sources of support. However, research has shown that black women with higher socioeconomic status also have high pre-term birth rates. Other research has investigated the link between genes and high pre-term birth rates. Recently, researchers have looked into whether “day-to-day encounters with discrimination” play a role in the high pre-term birth rates.

In addition, an ongoing study found that infant mortality dropped 70% over five years among blacks in Dane County, Wis., because there were fewer extremely premature infants and premature infants were recovering better than in the past.

In focus groups, researchers found that the “weight of discrimination and racism seemed to be fairly heavy in the older group of women,” while younger women “seem to feel very positive about how they’re accepted into the community,” Thomas Schlenker, public health director of Dane County, said.

Schlenker added, “What I hope (the research) shows it that living in an inclusive and supportive community is good for you. And if we can demonstrate how that actually makes a difference in how babies survive or not … we will really have something to share with other cities in Wisconsin and elsewhere” (Freyer [1], Providence Journal, 3/1).

The Journal on Sunday also profiled Yvonne Freeman who experienced pre-term birth first-hand and later became an obstetric nurse. Freeman is studying how social conditions can affect pregnancy and also teaches teenage girls about sex, sexually transmitted infections and birth control (Freyer [2], Providence Journal, 3/1).

In addition, the Journal featured a group prenatal care program, Centering Pregnancy (Freyer [3], Providence Journal, 3/1).

Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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