Birth outcome racial disparities: A result of intersecting social and environmental factors.
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<p>Adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth, low-birth weight, and infant mortality continue to disproportionately affect black and poor infants in the United States. Improvements in healthcare quality and access have not eliminated these disparities. The objective of this review was to consider societal factors, including suboptimal education, income inequality, and residential segregation, that together lead to toxic environmental exposures and psychosocial stress. Many toxic chemicals, as well as psychosocial stress, contribute to the risk of adverse birth outcomes and black women often are more highly exposed than white women. The extent to which environmental exposures combine with stress and culminate in racial disparities in birth outcomes has not been quantified but is likely substantial. Primary prevention of adverse birth outcomes and elimination of disparities will require a societal approach to improve education quality, income equity, and neighborhoods.</p>