African-American women are two to three times more likely to experience preterm births than their non-Hispanic White counterparts—a difference that has not been explained by well-established risk factors. Low birthweight is a predictor of infant mortality, as well as of numerous other health problems across a person's life span. This study explores whether these adverse outcomes might be caused by racism and by the stress of African-American women's racial experiences.
The authors conducted a series of focus groups with a total of 40 participants of varying ages, income levels and education. Seventeen women had one child, 10 had two, seven had three and six women had four children.
The following major themes emerged characterizing the participants' experiences with racism:
In light of the results, the authors recommend that measures of racism should be developed and formally tested.