A quarter of women who have serious maternal complications during childbirth also have premature births, posing a “dual burden” on families, finds research from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) California Preterm Birth Initiative, and Stanford University.
The study, published online in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine and the first to focus specifically on “dual burden” births, shows that these complications occur in one of 270 births and are twice as likely to affect Black mothers….
Premature infants — those born at less than 37 weeks — experience a range of health issues, including problems with breathing, digestion, heart rate, and development. Mothers can also face serious to potentially life-threatening health issues during childbirth. These maternal complications — also known as severe maternal morbidity — include serious bleeding that requires a blood transfusion, blood clots, heart failure, emergency hysterectomies, and other serious problems. Research shows that severe maternal morbidity is rare but is also increasing nationally, with rates more than doubling from 2002 to 2014, and can have ongoing consequences for women and their families….
Several factors were associated with a higher risk of a “dual burden” birth, including cesarean birth, carrying multiples, smoking during pregnancy, being underweight, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The researchers also found that Black women were twice as likely to have a “dual burden” birth as White women when controlling for other factors.
“Racial disparities in health outcomes should be considered markers of exposure to racism, where poorer health reflects the exposure to chronic stress from discrimination and structural inequity, rather than race being a ‘risk factor’ for disease or poor health outcomes,” said Lyndon. “Our study suggests that combined maternal and infant health challenges may result from exposure to racism for Black families and illustrates the transgenerational impact of such exposure.”…
Lyndon is right that it’s a marker of racism, but probably not in the way she’s thinking: