Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Utah Health Status Update: Community Health Indicators Spotlight- Effects of Perceived Racism during Pregnancy in Utah

Research shows that racial discrimination is a chronic stressor that may increase the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm labor. According to 2012–2013 Utah Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data, approximately 5,133 (5.2%) of Utah women who answered the survey reported feeling emotionally upset as a result of how they were treated based on their race. 

Feelings of racial bias were more likely to be reported among women who were of younger ages, unmarried, of lower educational levels, of non-White race, Hispanic, and of lower income levels. In addition to adverse birth outcomes, PRAMS data indicate there are other aspects of a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period that may be affected by the stress caused by feelings of racial discrimination. 

Figure 1 shows significantly higher rates of inadequate prenatal care, postpartum depression, and not breastfeeding at the time of the survey among women with perceptions of racial bias during pregnancy. 

These results suggest that healthcare providers should consider the potential risk for increased stress among their patients who report feelings of racial bias. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that clinicians screen patients at least once during the perinatal period for depression and anxiety symptoms using a standardized, validated tool. Relaxation and other stress reduction techniques should be recommended to assist women living with stressful circumstances such as perceived racial bias.

Read article published in the March 2016 edition of the Utah Health Status Update.

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