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Increased risk of premature birth and underweight babies associated with racial discrimination

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Increased risk of premature birth and underweight babies associated with racial discrimination

Having an underweight and premature baby is linked to having encountered racial discrimination based on ethnicity, skin colour, or nationality, according to a pooled data analysis of the available evidence.

The research’s findings were disseminated in the journal “BMJ Global Health.”

According to the researchers, the study strengthens the body of evidence showing that racial discrimination increases the risk of negative health outcomes.

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Race has been acknowledged as a social determinant of health and a risk factor for many diseases for a number of years. The evidence is mounting that upstream social, environmental, economic, and political factors are the primary causes of health inequities and that racism, not race, is frequently the underlying issue.

For instance, maternal mortality rates in the USA are 2-3 times higher for Black and Indigenous women than for White women. Similar disparities exist between Black and Asian women’s maternal mortality rates and White women’s maternal mortality rates in the UK.

The researchers searched eight electronic databases for pertinent studies on self-reported race discrimination and premature birth (before 37 weeks), low birth weight, and high blood pressure associated with pregnancy that had been published up to January 2022 in order to explore the patterns of racial disparities in pregnancy outcomes.

The final analysis included the findings from 24 studies overall, with an average of 39 to 9470 participants per study. The majority (20) of studies were conducted in

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Participants in the study came from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, including Black or African Americans, Hispanics, non-Hispanic Whites, Maoris, Pacific Islanders, Asians, Aboriginals, Romanis, native Germans, and Turks.

The analysis of pooled data revealed that for all the outcomes examined, racial discrimination was linked to a higher risk of preterm birth and having a baby that was small for gestational age.

Premature birth rates were predicted to be 40% more common overall. The odds of premature birth were decreased but remained 31% higher when low-quality studies were excluded. And while not statistically significant, the overall odds of a small-for-gestational-age baby were estimated to be 23 per cent higher.

When additional analyses of a few chosen data were conducted, similar outcomes were attained.

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The majority of the studies included in the pooled data analysis were based in the USA and included few other marginalised racial or ethnic groups besides African Americans. The researchers also acknowledge that many of the studies were of low quality. They might not therefore be more broadly applicable to other racial and cultural groups.

However, they note that their findings “align with existing evidence on perceived racial discrimination as an important risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

They say: “Racism permeates people’s daily lives and has profound effects on the experiences of people who are racialized. It influences other social determinants of health like employment, poverty, education, and housing as an upstream factor.

The availability of services and resources, such as referrals to specialised care, access to health insurance, and use of public health services, can be impacted by racism, which is more directly related to health.

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The researchers emphasise a number of strategies, including the necessity of bettering clinician training, to address how racism affects health outcomes.

They propose that this can be accomplished by “universally removing well-documented examples of racial bias that continue to perpetuate health inequities.”

This includes the absence of instruction on dermatology and the various disease manifestations in non-White people, the unreliability of pulse oximetry technology, unjustified racial adjustments to renal function measurement, and insufficient instruction on personal biases and the social causes of health inequities.

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Study: Maternal obesity more accurately predicts risk of heart disease than pregnancy issues.

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Study: Maternal obesity more accurately predicts risk of heart disease than pregnancy issues.

Maternal health during pregnancy is a critical factor in the well-being of both the mother and the child. While a range of issues can arise during pregnancy, new research suggests that maternal obesity may be a more accurate predictor of heart disease risk than specific complications during pregnancy. This study sheds light on the long-term health implications of obesity and emphasizes the importance of addressing this public health concern. In this blog, we’ll explore the findings of this study and their broader implications.

A Stronger Predictor of Heart Disease Risk than Pregnancy Complications

A recent study published in a medical journal has attracted attention for its focus on maternal obesity and its impact on future heart disease risk. Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of medical records of women who had given birth in the past decade, tracking their health outcomes over time. The study found that maternal obesity is a more robust predictor of heart disease risk than specific pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia.

Key Findings

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  1. Long-term Risk: The study’s findings suggest that maternal obesity is associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease in the years following pregnancy. This highlights the importance of addressing obesity as a long-term health concern, not just a temporary condition associated with pregnancy.
  2. Preeclampsia and Gestational Diabetes: While preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are well-known complications of pregnancy that can impact maternal health, the study found that these conditions did not have as strong a correlation with future heart disease risk as maternal obesity.
  3. Weight Management: The study underscores the importance of proactive weight management for women before, during, and after pregnancy. It highlights that addressing obesity may have a more significant impact on reducing heart disease risk than solely focusing on managing specific pregnancy-related complications.

Implications

  1. Public Health Focus: Maternal obesity is a critical public health issue that extends beyond pregnancy. This research reinforces the need for society and healthcare systems to prioritize weight management and obesity prevention strategies to reduce the long-term health risks associated with obesity.
  2. Holistic Approach: Healthcare providers should consider a holistic approach to maternal health that includes not only addressing pregnancy-related issues but also focusing on a woman’s overall well-being, including weight management and cardiovascular health.
  3. Education and Support: Women planning to become pregnant or already expecting should receive information, education, and support regarding the importance of maintaining a healthy weight before and after childbirth. Health professionals can play a vital role in providing guidance and resources.

The findings of this study highlight the critical role that maternal obesity plays in predicting future heart disease risk, even more so than specific pregnancy complications. This research serves as a call to action for healthcare providers, policymakers, and society as a whole to prioritize the prevention and management of obesity to safeguard the long-term health of women and reduce their risk of heart disease. Addressing this public health issue early can lead to healthier mothers, healthier pregnancies, and ultimately healthier families.

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