Racial Issues and Birth

Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes and Racial Discrimination as an Independent Risk Factor Affecting Maternal, Infant, and Child Health

Despite widespread calls to reduce the infant mortality, preterm birth, and low birthweight rates in the United States, racial disparities in birth outcomes persist, with African-American infants remaining the most vulnerable. In 2013, the rate of preterm birth for African-American infants was nearly double that for white infants.

Known medical, genetic, and/or sociodemographic factors alone do not account for these disparities, leading researchers to examine race and the experience of racial discrimination as independent risk factors for affecting maternal, infant, and child health.

Elephant Circle, in collaboration with the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, the International Cesarean Awareness Network, and the Midwives Alliance of North American has created this Executive Summary of existing research to make this important area of study more accessible to people interested in maternal health.

The Executive Summary includes statistical data to describe the racial disparities in birth outcomes, including preterm birth, low birthweight, and infant mortality; provides a summary of current research to examine the correlations between race, racism, and poor birth outcomes; and provides recommendations to policymakers and researchers so that meaningful strides can be made toward dismantling racism, a necessary strategy to improve birth outcomes and eliminate healthcare disparities in the United States.

The Infographic also provides a useful tool for raising awareness about this important issue. If you have any questions about these tools or the research, don't hesitate to reach out at elephantcircle@gmail.com.