Population Health

May 8, 2019

Discrimination and PTSD may lead to increased preterm births among African-American women

Image of woman holding infantNew research from the University of Washington’s School of Social Work has connected racial discrimination to PTSD, and thus to preterm birth.

African-American women are nearly twice as likely to give birth prematurely as white women. These births often coincide with low birth weight, and together are linked to other developmental delays and health effects believed responsible for almost one-fifth of infant deaths nationwide. The trend holds up regardless of socioeconomic factors, according to this study.

The study’s findings led Amelia Gavin, associate professor in School of Social Work, and her co-authors to recommend that health-care providers start screening all pregnant women for prenatal PTSD in order to spot those at risk for preterm birth.

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