Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The Effects of Discrimination Could Last a Lifetime

 

From the 27 August 2012 article at Science News Daily

Increased levels of depression as a result of discrimination could contribute to low birth weight babies.

Given the well-documented relationship between low birth weight and the increased risk of health problems throughout one’s lifespan, it is vital to reduce any potential contributors to low birth weight.  A new study by Valerie Earnshaw and her colleagues from Yale University sheds light on one possible causal factor.  Their findings, published online in Springer’s journal, theAnnals of Behavioral Medicine, suggest that chronic, everyday instances of discrimination against pregnant, urban women of color may play a significant role in contributing to low birth weight babies.

Twice as many black women give birth to low birth weight babies than white or Latina women in the U.S.  Reasons for this disparity are, as yet, unclear. But initial evidence suggests a link may exist between discrimination experienced while pregnant and the incidence of low birth weight.  In addition, experiences of discrimination have also been linked to depression, which causes physiological changes that can have a negative effect on a pregnancy…

..

Levels of everyday discrimination reported were generally low.  However, the impact of discrimination was the same in all the participants regardless of age, ethnicity or type of discrimination reported.  Women reporting greater levels of discrimination were more prone to depressive symptoms, and ultimately went on to have babies with lower birth weights than those reporting lower levels of discrimination.  This has implications for healthcare providers who work with pregnant teens and young women during the pre-natal period, while they have the opportunity to try and reduce the potential impacts discrimination on the pregnancy.

The authors conclude that “Given the associations between birth weight and health across the life span, it is critical to reduce discrimination directed at urban youth of color so that all children are able to begin life with greater promise for health.  In doing so, we have the possibility to eliminate disparities not only in birth weight, but in health outcomes across the lifespan.”

 

Advertisements

August 31, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: