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Why Do Black Women Experience Higher Rates of Preterm Birth?


Purpose of the Review

The goal of this review is to describe how a woman’s exposures and experiences lead to Black-white disparities in preterm.

Recent Findings

Studies in the last 10 years have increased knowledge in areas that may explain disparities, in particular social factors such as racism and stress, as well as how social factors at the neighborhood level may intersect with those at the individual level. The biologic pathways linking the social environment to disparities in preterm birth is also becoming better understood. Study designs and measures may need to adapt to effectively study disparities.


While there is much greater appreciation for the potential importance of the social environment across the life course, more research is needed on methods to best study these factors, particularly in measurement, as well as pathways linking these factors to preterm birth in Black women.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Dawn P. Misra.

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Dawn P. Misra, Jaime Slaughter-Acey, Carmen Giurgescu, and Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson each declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Alexandra Nowak reports other from Wayne State University, outside the submitted work.

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Misra, D.P., Slaughter-Acey, J., Giurgescu, C. et al. Why Do Black Women Experience Higher Rates of Preterm Birth?. Curr Epidemiol Rep 4, 83–97 (2017).

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  • Race
  • Disparities
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm
  • Racism
  • Life course
  • Black
  • African-American