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Leanette Gaisie 

Infant and Maternal Mortality


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It is quite surprising to find that the United States has the highest maternity and infant mortality rates compared to other developed countries in the world. Infant mortality has been determined to be closely tied to pregnancy related complications, as two- third of infants who die within their first month of birth are from mothers who experience complications and abnormalities during pregnancy (Callaghan & Co., 2006). Women from all backgrounds stand the risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy and childbirth but it is seen to be higher in the African American community.

Racism and social stratification can be seen as the root of the problem. A report made by Amnesty International, a human rights organization in the United States, showed that women of color are more likely to lose their life during pregnancy or childbirth than women from other races, attributing this menace to discrimination, inappropriate treatment, lack of access to medical care and healthcare information and socioeconomic differences faced by people of color in our society (Amnesty International, 2011). As explained by Miriam Perez in the TED talk video, all these situations are stressors that can elevate the risk of pregnancy related complications in women. The government should put measures in place and provide programs that support families in need, consisting mostly of the African American race. Individuals should look beyond the physical characteristics of people and provide support in any way they possibly can, be it financial, emotional or psychological, this problem of infant and maternal mortality can be minimized in the United States, especially in the black population.



Callaghan, W., Macdorman, M., Rasmussen, S., Qin, C., & Lackritz, E. (2006). The contribution of preterm birth to infant mortality rates in the United States. Pediatrics118(4), 1566–1573. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2006-0860


Amnesty International, (2011). Deadly Delivery- The maternal healthcare crisis in the united states.

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Sarah Vollbrecht 

Week 1 Discussion


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Stress affects our everyday life. We have all felt it and it is hard to deal with. having lots of stress when pregnant, however, can be life-threatening for the baby. It seems that women who are more affected by discrimination are more likely than white women to give birth to unhealthy babies. People who experience more discrimination tend to have worse health than those who do not experience discrimination. These factors both put together is a very good reason why women may give birth to unhealthy babies. Stress alone can take a crazy toll on the body without the person even knowing. But everything you may stress about while pregnant, i.e discrimination, will cause unnecessary stress on the fetus.  (Giscombe, 2005) conducted a study and the outcome showed, “If racism is a form of stress, then it should be expected to produce adverse outcomes in pregnancy, as do other forms of stress. Several recent studies provide evidence that perceptions of racism have an adverse impact on birth outcomes. Two investigations found that racism is associated with low birth weight.” There can be so many other factors at play here, but it is so sad to me that women give birth to preterm or underweight babies simply because of racist issues. The “JJ way” has proven to help pregnant women be more confident, to feel loved and cared for, and to know they have all of the health care they need. I believe there need to be more places like this, to make people feel safer and take care of. there is no reason that in 2019 women should feel this way, and it takes a toll on their child.

Giscombé, C. L., & Lobel, M. (2005). Explaining disproportionately high rates of adverse birth outcomes among African Americans: the impact of stress, racism, and related factors in pregnancy. Psychological Bulletin131(5), 662.

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Alberto Catano 

Discussion 1


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Hello everyone,

In the TED video, Miriam Zoila Perez states that “marginalized groups in our society experience more discrimination and more impacts on their health” which in turn affects their pregnancies and contributes to high mortality rates in the United States (2019) and in a paper by Connie Mitchell et al they corroborate the significance specifically affecting African-Americans  by saying “African-American women are three times more likely than women of other racial groups to die from pregnancy-related causes, with 33.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to rates of 10.7 for White” (2014). While Perez specifically states that racism affects the health of pregnant women I would further expand by stating that the culture in the United States, fast-paced, work-oriented, and socioeconomic status further contributes to stress which then impacts the health of mothers. In many European countries, there are significantly better laws to benefit families such as better health care coverage for the mother and the children pre and post-birth and significant maternal and paternal leave in both time and monetary value; I believe relieving the stress of worrying about finances and the pressure to return to work as soon as possible would overall be of benefit for mothers.


Mitchell, C., Lawton, E., Morton, C., McCain, C., Holtby, S., & Main, E. (2014). California Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review: Mixed Methods Approach for Improved Case Identification, Cause of Death Analyses and Translation of Findings. Maternal & Child Health Journal. 18(3), 518-526. https://doi-org.nuls.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10995-013-1267-0.

Perez, Z. How racism harms pregnant women — and what can help – Miriam Zoila Perez. (2019) Retrieved 4 September 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktOeFgmdIAo.

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Week One Discussion


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The infant and maternal mortality rate in the US exceed that of most other developed nations. Studies have demonstrated that non-Hispanic black infants in the US have a mortality rate of more than double when compared to non-Hispanic white infants (Burris et al., 2019). According to Burris et al. (2019), there is an overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrating that disparities in infant mortality are the result of environmental factors, as opposed to genetic factors. Meaning, the context of one’s developmental years and exposures in early life can impact future reproductive health (Lu & Halfon, 2003). While some may presume this discrepancy is a result of inadequate prenatal care, research has uncovered a more devastating hypothesis.

Prolonged exposure of allostasis, or more commonly known as the fight or flight response, has detrimental effects on the human body (Pérez, 2016). Multiple studies and research have hypothesized that those who experience discrimination are more likely to be in poorer health. Per Lu & Halfon (2003), the cumulative effects of allostatic load combined with early life experiences for non-Hispanic black women exemplify the disparities in birth outcome in comparison to non-Hispanic white women.

Racism is so embedded in the US, and it will likely take some time before we see improvement. However, focusing on public awareness toward some of the lesser-known devastations of racism may give rise to more funding for research and possibly lead to social change.


Burris, H. H., Lorch, S. A., Kirpalani, H., Pursley, D. M., Elovitz, M. A., & Clougherty, J. E. (2019). Racial disparities in preterm birth in USA: a biosensor of physical and social environmental exposures. Archives of Disease in Childhood. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2018-316486

Lu, M. C., & Halfon, N. (2003). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Life-Course Perspective. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 7(1), 13–30. doi: 10.1023/a:1022537516969

Pérez, M. Z. (2016). How racism harms pregnant women — and what can help. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/miriam_zoila_perez_how_racism_harms_pregnant_women_and_what_can_help

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