IntroductionRacial/ethnic inequities in preterm birth (PTB) are well documented. Most of this research has focused on maternal behavioral and socio-demographic characteristics. However, the full magnitude of the racial/ethnic gap remains inadequately understood. Studies now point to the role of racial discrimination in producing PTB inequities, but limitations exist, namely the use of a single, dichotomous item to measures discrimination and the limited generalizability of most studies which have been conducted in single cities or states.MethodsIn this commentary we briefly review extant research on explanations for racial/ethnic inequities in PTB, and the role of racial discrimination in producing the racial/ethnic gap in adverse birth outcomes such as PTB.ResultsThe Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), a state-level, population-based survey, annually collects data from 51 states and cities (“states”) on maternal behaviors and experiences in the perinatal period. The questionnaire consists of mandatory “Core” questions, and optional “Standard” questions. Currently 22 states include a “Standard” question on discrimination; 29 do not. PRAMS offers a unique opportunity to systematically assess discrimination among a diverse, population-based sample across the US.DiscussionWe urge PRAMS to at least include the current measure of discrimination as a mandatory "Core" question. Ideally, PRAMS should include a validated discrimination scale as a "Core" question. The time has come to name and assess the impact of discrimination on adverse birth outcomes. PRAMS can play a vital role in helping to close the racial/ethnic gap in PTB.
Maternal and Child Health Journal – Springer Journals
Published: May 4, 2021