How can racism cause black mothers to kill their babies?

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How can racism cause black mothers to kill their babies?

She and her husband have recently married. They have a good job.

“I was a community organizer kicking ass,” Pierce said. “he was African-American and lived in Cleveland. She worked for a nonprofit organization that fought against predatory lending. The group is growing, and Pierce has been promoted to management.

It feels like a good time to get pregnant. “I went to get my contraceptive pill, and two weeks later, it was like ‘hey, we’re pregnant! “She laughed.

Pierce thought she was a good child. She had a son before, and it was normal to get pregnant. She has a college degree, which is known as an opportunity to improve women’s health and pregnancy. She is conducting regular checks and taking her prenatal vitamins.

Everything went well until one day, in her second three months, she found out that she was leaking fluids. After a week in the hospital, her water broke and her water broke and she gave birth to her son. “Each of them lived for five minutes,” she said. “But they can’t breathe, they don’t have lungs, we have to hold them, talk to them, I can see them breathing, I can see them stop breathing, you know.

Pierce was destroyed. For months, she couldn’t bear to see herself in the mirror, especially her stomach. She said she felt her uterus was a cemetery – “a walking tomb.” “It’s just a stumbling, failing, proof that you can’t get your child in. I can’t even think of a thing I put on this planet as a bear.

A chilling statistic.

Bianca and her 1-year-old son, Everton, in her Bronx, N.Y., apartment. Bianca had her own pregnancy emergency; Everton was born at just 24 weeks.

What Samantha Pierce didn’t know at the time was that her twins had become part of the chilling statistics. “Black infant mortality in the United States is more than twice as high as for white babies in their first year,” said Arthur James, a physician at the Wexner medical center at Ohio state university in Columbus. According to the latest data from the centers for disease control and prevention, 4.8 white babies die in the first year of every 1,000 live births. For blacks, the figure is 11.7.

James said most of the dead black babies were born prematurely, because black mothers like pearce had a higher risk of premature birth.

Scientists and doctors have spent decades trying to understand what makes African American women vulnerable to losing babies. Now, more and more people believe that the racial discrimination that black mothers experience in their lifetime makes it less likely that they will bring their children to full term.

James, 65, saw too many black babies not living.

James is also an African American, but that doesn’t look right. “You ask yourself the question: what is it that makes us more at risk for this experience?”

Decades of pursuit.

Richard David, a neonatologist at the university of Illinois at Chicago, has been studying it for decades. In his first study of the problem in the 1980s, he said, scientists believe the two main culprits are poverty and lack of education.

“We know that African American women are more likely to be poor,” he said. “We know that when they have children, they have less education.”

But when David cook county hospital in Chicago and colleagues at northwestern university medical school, James Collins (James Collins) found that even with the education of the middle class African American women, there are also smaller premature babies are less likely to survive.

For example, David said that black and white teenage mothers who grew up in poor neighborhoods had a higher risk of premature babies. “They all have a 13 percent chance of having a low-birth-weight baby,” he said.

But in the region with higher income, women may be a little older, higher level of education, “in the white women, the risk of low birth weight fell sharply to half, and only a little” African American women.

In fact, today, black women like Samantha Pierce are more likely to give birth prematurely than white women who graduate from high school.

“That’s the kind of thing that makes us ask this question: what else? And David said. “What do we lack?

It is suggested that the root cause may be genetics. But if genes work, women from Africa will have the same risk. So David and his colleague Collins looked at the babies of immigrant women from west Africa. But as they reported in the New England journal of medicine in 1997, the babies were more like white babies – they were bigger and more likely to be full term. So this is clearly not genetics, David said.

Then, years later, David and Collins noticed something amazing. The grandchildren of African immigrant women were born smaller than their mothers. In other words, grandchildren are more likely to be immature, like African American babies.

The same is true of the grandchildren of black women who emigrated from the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, the grandchildren of white immigrant women in Europe were born bigger than their mothers. David and Collins published their results in the 2002 American journal of epidemiology.

“So, growing up in the United States some black people, and then giving birth to a child with a lower birth weight,” said David.

Blacks and women who grew up in the United States.

David: what’s the difference between black people who grew up in the United States? “It’s hard to find, it’s not racial discrimination in any way,” he said. “Whether you’re applying for a job, or buying a new car, looking for a home, accepting education… Even if you get the same amount of education, you won’t get the same amount of money, and if you’re black, you tend to get less pay. ”

As NPR a recent poll, Robert wood Johnson foundation and TH at harvard school of public health, Chen found that 92% of African americans believe that exists today in the United States discrimination against African americans. The survey found that higher education and income did not necessarily mean less discrimination.

In 2004, David and Collins published a study in the American journal of public health, covering the relationship between maternal racism and preterm birth. They asked about women’s housing, income, health habits and discrimination. “It turns out that as a predictor of very low birth weight outcomes, these racial issues are more powerful than asking women whether they smoke,” he said.

Other studies have shown the same results.

When she got pregnant in 2009, Samantha Pierce didn’t know that. But she does know discrimination. The first time someone called her N, she was only seven or eight years old. She went with her mother to mount Murray, in the Italian neighborhood of Cleveland.

Samantha Pierce works on a hip-hop aerobics class at the Naturally Gifted Fitness Center in Cleveland. Exercise is how she deals with the stresses of life.

NPR’s Dustin Franz

Pierce is now a certified personal trainer. She regularly works with her friends to train most other African-American women. Exercise provides a source of social support, and many black women say they don’t.

NPR’s Dustin Franz

“We’re driving,” she said. “We were driving, coming down the window. We were called niggers, just up the hill.”

Memory still made her angry. “It doesn’t matter if mom has her own house,” pearce said. “It doesn’t matter if we have this car, because we have this car, I don’t want to go to a private school, because I did it! When I was sitting on mount Murray, I was a black slave, and so was my mother.

It’s not the only time I feel inferior because of black people. She felt it at school, too.

Pierce recalled that her mother had warned her in her childhood that she would have to “work half as hard as her white man”.

Even in today’s work, she says, her mother’s words are the same.

Then there was racism every day, pearce said, like the staff in the store’s shadow, even when she was a white friend. Pierce said her white friends didn’t even notice. ‘these things happen every day,’ she says.

Arthur James of Ohio points out that black women tend to be major breadwinners and caregivers. He says this is partly because black men have higher incarceration rates and higher unemployment rates. “This increases the burden on black women.” He said the burden and the pressure from discrimination were added.

Stress and labor

When we are stressed, our bodies produce stress hormones. Stress hormones also disappear when stressors disappear. It’s a normal, healthy process. But when a person is always nervous, their bodies always have high levels of stress hormones.

Stress hormones are also naturally high in normal term labor. But if a woman is pregnant with a high level of stress hormones, she is more likely to provide it prematurely, James said.

“We believe that higher levels of stress hormones can increase the incidence of preterm birth,” he said.

A few months later, she lost her first twin, samantha pearce, who was pregnant with the seven-year-old Camryn and Caedyn. That pregnancy, she was confined to bed.

NPR’s Dustin Franz

When Samantha Pierce first learned of this, her twins died a few years later, like a light bulb went out. “Stress leads to labor,” she said. “African American women are under more pressure.” “So we hit it at an amazing speed.”

Pierce is pregnant again. This time, she was a twin, too. She was laid to rest in bed, but the pregnancy went well. Her twins – boys and girls – are now seven years old and healthy.

In these days, pearce’s mission is to counter the pressures of a generation of black women and her daughters. And she used it as a weapon. She and other women regularly work out at the gym in Cleveland. And she is now a certified personal trainer. Her clients are mostly African-American women.

She says exercise is not just about adaptation. It can also provide social support, and many black women say they lack it.

“We are really hard on ourselves,” pearce said. “So we really need other women, especially other black women, to say, ‘I see you, you’re doing great, moving on.’ ”

Pierce cannot change how society treats black women. But she is trying to change how black women cope with stress. If they can make their bodies more resilient, they may leave a better chance of survival for their babies.

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