A significant jump in preterm births to Latina mothers living in the U.S. occurred in the nine months following the November 8, 2016 election of President Donald Trump, according to a study led by a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study, published July 19 in JAMA Network Open, was prompted by smaller studies that had suggested adverse, stress-related health effects among Latin Americans in the U.S. after the 2016 election. The new analysis, based on U.S. government data on more than 33 million live births in the country, found an excess of 2,337 preterm births to U.S. Latinas compared to what would have been expected, given trends in preterm birth in the years prior to the election. This is roughly 3.5 percent more preterm births than expected, given projections from pre-election data.
Preterm birth, defined as birth before 37 weeks of gestation, is associated with a wide range of negative health consequences, from a greater risk of death in infancy to developmental problems later in life.
Most Latinas living in the U.S. are citizens or otherwise documented immigrants and would not be directly threatened by tighter policies for undocumented immigrants. Yet they are very likely to have close friends or family members who would be threatened by such policies.
Dr. Alison Gemmill, assistant professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health department of population, family and reproductive health, is the study’s first author.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on July 26