Racial disparities persist in preterm birth risk

In Racial disparities persist in preterm birth risk, Anne Harding (Reuters - 6.1.07) reports on a new study's finding that African American infants are four times as likely to be born before 28 weeks gestation as white infants, an imbalance that hasn't changed in a decade.

Since "extremely pre-term" babies are at much greater risk of death than infants born later, this disparity is a major factor in the continuing infant mortality gap between blacks and whites in the United States.

Level of education does not appear to a factor since even college-educated African American women experience the same or higher levels of extreme pre-term births.

The causes? Unfortunately, they are unknown. But among the possible causes being investigated: racism, stress and the disparities in the quality of the environment.

Environmental racism?