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