Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 13–23 | Cite as

Maternal Experiences with Everyday Discrimination and Infant Birth Weight: A Test of Mediators and Moderators Among Young, Urban Women of Color

  • Valerie A. EarnshawEmail author
  • Lisa Rosenthal
  • Jessica B. Lewis
  • Emily C. Stasko
  • Jonathan N. Tobin
  • Tené T. Lewis
  • Allecia E. Reid
  • Jeannette R. Ickovics
Original Article



Racial/ethnic disparities in birth weight persist within the USA.


The purpose of this study is to examine the association between maternal everyday discrimination and infant birth weight among young, urban women of color as well as mediators (depressive symptoms, pregnancy distress, and pregnancy symptoms) and moderators (age, race/ethnicity, and attributions of discrimination) of this association.


A total of 420 women participated (14–21 years old; 62 % Latina, 38 % Black), completing measures of everyday discrimination and moderators during their second trimester of pregnancy and mediators during their third trimester. Birth weight was primarily recorded from medical record review.


Path analysis demonstrated that everyday discrimination was associated with lower birth weight. Depressive symptoms mediated this relationship, and no tested factors moderated this relationship.


Given the association between birth weight and health across the lifespan, it is critical to reduce discrimination directed at young, urban women of color so that all children can begin life with greater promise for health.


Everyday discrimination Birth weight Depressive symptoms Pregnancy distress Adolescents Pregnancy 



The project described was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, including R01MH074399, a research grant that funded the study, and T32MH020031, a training grant that funded Dr. Earnshaw’s effort. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health. The authors thank three anonymous reviewers and Dr. Laura Bogart for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerie A. Earnshaw
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lisa Rosenthal
    • 1
  • Jessica B. Lewis
    • 1
  • Emily C. Stasko
    • 1
  • Jonathan N. Tobin
    • 2
  • Tené T. Lewis
    • 1
  • Allecia E. Reid
    • 1
  • Jeannette R. Ickovics
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale School of Public Health and the Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDSNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Directors’ NetworkNew YorkUSA

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