Unexpected consequences

Recent data suggests that chronic stress associated with being a minority, particularly being African American, for some biological reason increases the risk of delivering a premature, low birth weight infant.

Babies born in Cuba, Slovenia and South Korea are more likely to see their first birthday than babies born in the U.S.

Infant mortality is a leading indicator of the level of child health and overall development in countries. Yet, newborn deaths in the United States ranked 41 out of 45 among industrialized countries, on par with Qatar and Croatia.

And while the U.S. has seen a reduction in newborn deaths over the past decade, for African Americans, the infant mortality rate is nearly twice as high as for white Americans. 

Education is a strong predictor of a healthy pregnancy and delivery. But even well-educated Black women have birth outcomes worse than white women who haven’t finished high school.


Richard David and James Collins, neonatologists, postulate that the chronic stress of racism plays a significant role. “It’s something about lifelong minority status which is the driving factor here.”