Parental Race/Ethnicity Discordance Linked to Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Interview with:

Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD Professor Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy City University of New York

Dr. Luisa Borrell

Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy
City University of New York What is the background for this study?

Dr. Borrell: Racial/ethnic disparities in birth outcomes in the United States are well documented, with non-Hispanic Black women exhibiting the worst outcomes. Several hypotheses have been proposed as explanation to this finding such as the weathering hypothesis and cumulative or chronic experiences of social inequality and racism. However, these hypotheses have only accounted for the stress burden associated with the mother’s race/ethnicity, as her race/ethnicity has been the sole information used to determine the child’s race/ethnicity, ignoring the possible stress associated with the father’s race/ethnicity. We used NYC birth- and death-linked data from 2000 to 2010 to examine the added effect of paternal race/ethnicity on adverse birth outcomes (low birth weight , small for gestational age , preterm births, and infant mortality ) among NYC women. What are the main findings?

Dr. Borrell: We found that the risks seem to be higher for the least common pairings—Asian men with White, Black, and Hispanic women and Asian women with Black and Hispanic men. Relative to White couples, White women had highest risk for low birth weight and small for gestational age when the partner was Asian, for preterm birth with a Black or Hispanic partner, and for infant mortality with a Black partner. For Black women, the risks for an adverse birth outcome were highest with an Asian partner. Hispanic women had greater risks of having a LBW or SGA baby with an Asian partner and higher risks of a preterm birth or IM with a Black partner. Finally, for Asian women, the risks were higher for LBW, preterm birth, and IM with a Black or Hispanic partner and for SGA with a Black partner. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Borrell: There is a lack of tolerance or acceptance for interracial relationships. In fact, interracial partnering and marriages may add stress to women during pregnancy as they may experience a “double minority status” within their immediate social environment. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Borrell: Parental race/ethnicity discordance may add stress to women during pregnancy, affecting birth outcomes. Thus, parental race/ethnicity should be considered when examining such outcomes. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Borrell: Our findings suggest that although the face of America is changing as we mix and mingle every day, racism is alive and well in our society, and actually, appears to be resurfaced in unexpected ways, shades and places. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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