Experiencing Racism of 11.4% Tied to Doubled Odds of Depression During Pregnancy

Authors say respectful maternity care may help address maternal morbidity in Black women.

Pregnancy: Women who have been upset due to experiencing racism in the year prior to delivery have significantly higher odds of depression during pregnancy, according to a study published online in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Kelly M. Bower, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, and colleagues used data from phase 8 (2018) of the Risk Assessment Monitoring System survey (7,328 non-Hispanic Black respondents with a recent live birth from 11 states and New York City) to examine the association between feeling upset by experiences of racism and self-reported depression during childbearing.

The researchers found that the prevalence of feeling upset due to experiences of racism was 11.4 percent, and depression during maternity was 11.4 percent.

When adjusting for maternal age, educational attainment, marital status, prepregnancy insurance type, region, and prepregnancy depression, respondents who reported feeling upset due to the experience of racism had double the likelihood of experiencing depression during pregnancy versus respondents who did not report feeling upset due to the experience of racism (odds ratio, 2.37).

“Racism is a powerful structural determinant of health with roots in a historical system of oppression that persists today in health care practices and policies,” the authors write. “Our findings reinforce the importance of respectful maternity care, given the mental health impacts of experiences of racism during the perinatal period.”


Read More About Ob/Gyn & Women's Health