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Some racial disparities in childbirth more environmental than genetic
Date:3/13/2014

oss the UV spectrum.

The racial disparity in low birth weight was greatest among women living in areas with high UV exposure and greater income inequality. The disparity in preterm births was also highest in areas with increased UV exposure and income inequality.

According to the UVD hypothesis, the difference in birth outcomes between whites and blacks should be lower among women in areas with more sunshine or UV radiation. In fact, there was an increase in disparities in those areas.

"Given the UV hypothesis, we would expect that women who live in the South would have better birth outcomes than those living in the North," Thayer said. "However, the present analysis suggests the exact opposite, with both absolute rates as well as racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes being greatest in southern states."

In fact, the states with the lowest disparities in preterm and low birth weights were North Dakota and Vermont which had the second and third lowest UV Indexes respectively.

"The results suggest that the environment is a stronger contributor to adverse birth outcomes than genes, since there are differences in rates of birth outcomes across states" Thayer said. "That said, it seems unlikely that disparities in birth outcomes in the U.S. are primarily shaped by differences in UV induced vitamin D status."

Thayer said it might be time to stop looking at genes as the primary cause of racial differences.

"We need to focus on addressing structural inequalities in society like poverty and discrimination that shape individual experience and health," she said.


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Contact: Dan Meyers
dan.meyers@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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