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Structural racism is associated with adverse postnatal outcomes among Black preterm infants.

  • Karvonen, Kayla L
  • McKenzie-Sampson, Safyer
  • Baer, Rebecca J
  • Jelliffe-Pawlowski, Laura
  • Rogers, Elizabeth E
  • Pantell, Matthew S
  • Chambers, Brittany D
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2023
eScholarship - University of California
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BackgroundStructural racism contributes to racial disparities in adverse perinatal outcomes. We sought to determine if structural racism is associated with adverse outcomes among Black preterm infants postnatally.MethodsObservational cohort study of 13,321 Black birthing people who delivered preterm (gestational age 22-36 weeks) in California in 2011-2017 using a statewide birth cohort database and the American Community Survey. Racial and income segregation was quantified by the Index of Concentration at the Extremes (ICE) scores. Multivariable generalized estimating equations regression models were fit to test the association between ICE scores and adverse postnatal outcomes: frequent acute care visits, readmissions, and pre- and post-discharge death, adjusting for infant and birthing person characteristics and social factors.ResultsBlack birthing people who delivered preterm in the least privileged ICE tertiles were more likely to have infants who experienced frequent acute care visits (crude risk ratio [cRR] 1.3 95% CI 1.2-1.4), readmissions (cRR 1.1 95% CI 1.0-1.2), and post-discharge death (cRR 1.9 95% CI 1.2-3.1) in their first year compared to those in the privileged tertile. Results did not differ significantly after adjusting for infant or birthing person characteristics.ConclusionStructural racism contributes to adverse outcomes for Black preterm infants after hospital discharge.Impact statementStructural racism, measured by racial and income segregation, was associated with adverse postnatal outcomes among Black preterm infants including frequent acute care visits, rehospitalizations, and death after hospital discharge. This study extends our understanding of the impact of structural racism on the health of Black preterm infants beyond the perinatal period and provides reinforcement to the concept of structural racism contributing to racial disparities in poor postnatal outcomes for preterm infants. Identifying structural racism as a primary cause of racial disparities in the postnatal period is necessary to prioritize and implement appropriate structural interventions to improve outcomes.

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