When reproductive rights are less restrictive, babies are born healthier

October 13, 2020

Ann Arbor, October 13, 2020 - American women living in states with less restrictive reproductive rights policies are less likely to give birth to low-birth weight babies, according to a new , published by Elsevier. The findings show that women, particularly US-born Black women, giving birth in states with less restrictive reproductive rights policies have a seven percent lower low-birth weight risk, compared to women in states with more restrictive policies.

"Our study provides evidence that reproductive rights policies play a critical role in advancing maternal and child health equity," said lead investigator

Compared to infants of normal weight, low birth weight babies may be more at risk for many health problems. Some infants may become sick in the first six days of life or develop infections. Others may even suffer from long-term problems, including delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities.

This research contributes to understanding how broader social policies affect birth outcomes measured by examining race and nativity status. The events of 2020 sharpened national focus on structural racism, which historically and culturally reinforces racial inequities through discriminatory practices and unequal distribution of resources, such as wealth, healthcare, and housing. This dynamic may be an important factor in producing reproductive disadvantages via stress-induced physiological pathways that are exacerbated by racism and tied to poor health outcomes.

The study analyzed birth record data for the nearly four million births that occurred in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2016 to assess the associations between reproductive rights policies and adverse birth outcomes. The investigators further evaluated if the associations were different for women of color and immigrants. Compared with women living in states with the most restrictive reproductive rights policies, women living in the least restrictive states had a 7 percent lower low-birth weight risk. Low-birth weight risk was 8 percent lower among Black women living in states with the least restrictive reproductive rights policies compared with their counterparts living in the most restrictive states.

The study indicates that expanding reproductive rights may decrease the risk of low-birth weight, particularly for US-born Black women. Specifically, the findings showed significant associations between low-birth weight and states' reproductive rights climate among US-born, but not foreign-born, Black women. This finding is in line with the growing literature on the context-dependent nature of race as a determinant of population health. It may be that US-born Black women's reproductive health is affected by the cumulative impact of lifetimes and generations within a systematically racist society.

The national reckoning on racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement underscore the critical importance and urgency of addressing longstanding systemic racism and its adverse effects on the health and well-being of black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) women and families, in particular. Black women are more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than any other race group, experience more maternal health complications than White women, and experience lower quality maternity care, including disrespectful care during childbirth. Moreover, adverse birth outcomes constitute a major public health priority; yet significant inequities exist across race and nativity status.

Dr. Sudhinaraset concluded, "Addressing the adverse consequences of structural racism requires examination of the historical and present-day policies that negatively affect women of color. Future studies should assess specific evidence-based policies, particularly highlighting women's lived experiences of policy exclusion or inclusion, and the effects on women and newborn health. Important policy levers can and should be implemented to improve women's reproductive health overall, including increasing abortion access and mandatory sex education in schools."


Related American Women Living Articles from Brightsurf:

Women living with HIV prefer long-acting injectable anti-retroviral therapy over daily pill
A new study found that the majority of women living with HIV would endorse a monthly long acting injectable (LAI) antiretroviral therapy over current daily pills.

'Breastfeeding gap' exists among Mexican-origin women living in Texas
Mexican women born and educated in Mexico who now live in Texas breastfeed longer than those born and educated in the United States.

Does being a 'superwoman' protect African American women's health?
A new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers explores whether different facets of being a strong black woman, which researchers sometimes refer to as 'superwoman schema,' ultimately protect women from the negative health impacts of racial discrimination -- or cause more harm.

Greater prevalence of anal cancer precursors for women living with HIV than prior reports
The prevalence of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), which precede anal cancer, is much higher in women living with HIV than previously reported, a multi-site, national study involving hundreds of patients has found.

Trace metal exposure among pregnant women living near fracking wells in Canada
Researchers find higher concentrations of trace metals such as barium in the hair and urine of 29 pregnant women living near fracking wells in British Columbia, Canada.

Sensor-based technologies are promising to support independent living for older women
A study conducted at the University of Colorado College of Nursing on older women's perception of technology found that more active older adult women prefer wearable sensors for themselves and smart home sensors for their older parents.

Immigrant Asian American women may be at higher risk for breast cancer
According to the results of a new study led by a researcher from the University of California, Riverside, a subset of women living in the US may be at higher risk for breast cancer than previously observed.

Cultural practices improve health care for Indigenous women living with violence
The health of Indigenous women recovering from the trauma of partner violence improves when the healing process integrates elder-led circles and other cultural elements, finds new research from the University of British Columbia and Western University.

What the first American astronauts taught us about living in space
Project Mercury proved that humans could live and work in space, paving the way for all future human exploration.

Tumor microenvironment of TNBC varies between African-American and European-American women
The presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) varied significantly in the tumors of African-American and European-American women with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), suggesting that TILs may be a useful prognostic biomarker, according to the results of a study presented at the Tenth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held here Sept.

Read More: American Women Living News and American Women Living Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.