The contribution of racism-related stress and adversity to disparities in birth outcomes: evidence and research recommendations

Elsevier, F&S Reports, Volume 3, Issue 2, Supplement, May 2022, Pages 5-13.
Sabrina R. Liu, Laura M. Glynn

Currently, racial and ethnic differences in adverse birth outcomes and infant mortality are some of the largest and most persistent health disparities in the United States. This narrative review article synthesizes existing literature to present a conceptual model of how racism-related stress and adversity are critical determinants of such disparities. We describe how historical and ongoing racism has created conditions wherein women of color are disproportionately exposed to chronic, multilayered stress and adversity and how the biological consequences of exposure to these stressors confers risk for adverse birth outcomes. Next, we identify important priorities and considerations for future research, including the heterogeneity of racism-related stressors, biomarkers and mechanisms, chronicity and sensitive periods of exposure, developmental programming of lifespan health, resilience, and community-engaged research methodologies.