Studies Examine Cause Behind Infant Mortality Gap, Link Between Perceived Racism, Health
The following summarizes studies in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health that are related to minority health.
- "The Contribution of Preterm Birth to the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap, 1990 and 2000": The study examined how racial disparities in preterm births affects racial disparities in infant mortality. Previous research has linked almost two-thirds of racial disparities in infant mortality to preterm birth. For the study, Ashley Schempf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health and colleagues used data from the National Center for Health Statistics Linked Birth/Infant Death Cohort Files. Between 1990 and 2000, premature births decreased by 10% among black infants, compared with a 16% increase among white infants. However, extremely premature births -- infants born before 28 weeks -- were four times higher among black infants and accounted for more than 50% of the infant mortality gap, according to the study. Researchers concluded that because of the disparity in extremely premature births among blacks, improving efforts to prevent premature births is necessary to reduce the infant mortality gap between whites and blacks (Schempf et al., AJPH, July 2007).
- "Overt and Subtle Racial Discrimination and Mental Health: Preliminary Findings for Korean Immigrants": This study examined how overt and subtle forms of racial discrimination against Korean immigrants affected their mental health. For the study, researchers Samuel Noh of the Culture, Community and Health Studies program at the University of Toronto and colleagues used data from the Korean Mental Health Study and interviewed 180 Korean immigrants living in Toronto. Researchers found that both overt and subtle discrimination seemed to influence participants' mental health. Overt discrimination was associated with the erosion of positive mood, while subtle racism was associated with symptoms of depression, possibly because more subtle forms of discrimination create "ambiguities in terms of social identity," the study said (Noh et al., AJPH, July 2007).
- "A Nationwide Study of Discrimination and Chronic Health Conditions Among Asian-Americans": This study examined whether perceived discrimination contributes to chronic health conditions among Asian-Americans. For the study, researcher Gilbert Gee of the University of Michigan School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior and Health Education used data from the National Latino and Asian-American Study from 2002 and 2003. Researchers found that perceived discrimination was associated with many chronic conditions, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, and pain-related conditions. Discrimination also was associated with indicators of those conditions, according to the report. Researchers concluded that the everyday perceived discrimination minorities experience could cause stress that can lead to chronic illnesses (Gee et al., AJPH, July 2007).