How can racism cause black mothers to kill their babies?
Samantha Pierce was pregnant with twins in February 2009. It was the best time of her life.
She and her husband have recently married. They have a good job.
“I’m a community organizer kicking ass,” Pierce said. “he’s African-American and he lives in Cleveland. She worked for a nonprofit organization that fought against predatory lending. The group is growing, and Pierce has been promoted to management.
It feels like a good time to get pregnant. “I went to get my contraceptive pill, and two weeks later, it was like ‘hey, we’re pregnant! “She laughed.
Pierce thought she was a good child. She had a son before, and it was normal to get pregnant. She has a college degree, which is known as an opportunity to improve women’s health and pregnancy. She is conducting regular checks and taking her prenatal vitamins.
Everything went well until one day, in her second three months, she found out that she was leaking fluids. After a week in the hospital, her water broke and her water broke and she gave birth to her son. “Each of them lived for five minutes,” she said. “But they can’t breathe, they don’t have lungs, we have to hold them, talk to them, I can see them breathing, I can see them stop breathing, you know.
Pierce was destroyed. For months, she couldn’t bear to see herself in the mirror, especially her stomach. She said she felt her uterus was a cemetery – “a walking tomb.” “It’s just a stumbling, failing, proof that you can’t get your child in. I can’t even think of a thing I put on this planet as a bear.
A chilling statistic.
What samantha Pierce didn’t know was that her twins had become part of a chilling statistic. “Black infant mortality in the United States is more than twice as high as in the first year of white babies,” said Arthur James, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Ohio state university’s Wexner medical center. According to the latest data from the centers for disease control and prevention, 4.8 white babies die in the first year of every 1,000 live births. For blacks, the figure is 11.7.
James said most of the dead black babies were born prematurely, because black mothers like pearce had a higher risk of premature birth.
Scientists and doctors have spent decades trying to understand what makes African American women vulnerable to losing babies. Now, more and more people believe that the racial discrimination that black mothers experience in their lifetime makes it less likely that they will bring their children to full term.
James, 65, saw too many black babies not living.
James is also an African American, but that doesn’t look right. “You ask yourself the question: what is it that makes us more at risk for this experience?”
Decades of pursuit.
Richard David, a neonatologist at the university of Illinois at Chicago, has been studying it for decades. In his first study of the problem in the 1980s, he said, scientists believe the two main culprits are poverty and lack of education.
“We know that African American women are more likely to be poor,” he said. “We know that when they have children, a few of them have done education.”
But James Collins, a colleague at the cook county hospital in Chicago and a colleague at northwestern university’s school of medicine, found that even middle-class African-American women with education were less likely to survive.
For example, David said that black and white teenage mothers who grew up in poor neighborhoods had a higher risk of premature babies. “They all have a 13 percent chance of having a low-birth-weight baby,” he said.
But in the region with higher income, women may be a little older, higher level of education, “in the white women, the risk of low birth weight fell sharply to half, and only a little” African American women.
In fact, today, black women like Samantha Pierce are more likely to give birth prematurely than white women who graduate from high school.
“That’s the kind of thing that makes us ask this question: what else? And David said. “What do we lack?
It is suggested that the root cause may be genetics. But if genes work, women from Africa will have the same risk. So David and his colleague Collins looked at the babies of immigrant women from west Africa. But as they reported in the New England journal of medicine in 1997, the babies were more like white babies – they were bigger and more likely to be full term. So this is clearly not genetics, David said.
Then, years later, David and Collins noticed something amazing. The grandchildren of African immigrant women were born smaller than their mothers. In other words, grandchildren are more likely to be immature, like African American babies.
The same is true of the grandchildren of black women who emigrated from the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the grandchildren of white immigrant women in Europe were born bigger than their mothers. David and Collins published their results in the 2002 American journal of epidemiology.
“So, growing up in the United States some black people, and then having a child associated with birth weight loss,” said David.
Blacks and women who grew up in the United States.
David: what’s the difference between black people who grew up in the United States? “It’s hard to find, it’s not racial discrimination in any way,” he said. “Whether you’re applying for a job, or buying a new car, looking for a home, accepting education… Even if you get the same amount of education, you won’t get the same amount of money, and if you’re black, you tend to get less pay. ”
As NPR a recent poll, Robert wood Johnson foundation and TH at harvard school of public health, Chen found that 92% of African americans believe that exists today in the United States discrimination against African americans. The survey found that higher education and income did not necessarily mean less discrimination.
In 2004, David and Collins published a study in the American journal of public health on the link between maternal racism and preterm birth. They asked about women’s housing, income, health habits and discrimination. “It turns out that as a predictor of very low birth weight outcomes, these racial issues are more powerful than asking women whether they smoke,” he said.
Other studies have shown the same results.
When she got pregnant in 2009, Samantha Pierce didn’t know that. But she does know discrimination. The first time someone called her N, she was only seven or eight years old. She went with her mother to mount Murray, in the Italian neighborhood of Cleveland.