PRENATAL STUDY: Research Focuses on Latina Births
Researchers from the University of California-Davis are conducting a study to solve the "medical mystery" surrounding the relatively high incidence of premature and low-weight infants born to Latinas who have spent a significant amount of time in the United States, the Stockton Record reports. Statistics show that Latinas who have been in the United States longer than five years have a 7% chance of delivering a low-weight, premature baby, compared to a 4% chance among those who have lived in the country less than five years. The Study of Hispanic Acculturation, Reproduction and the Environment (SHARE) is funded by an NIH grant and will be conducted at San Joaquin General Hospital. Researchers plan on gathering information from 1,500 pregnant Latinas regarding diet, lifestyle, stress and work issues while monitoring their physical health. Researchers already suspect that the problems are not biological. Dr. Mark Schenker, chair of epidemiology and preventive medicine at UC-Davis, states, "We know the problem probably isn't genetic. There is nothing biologically unique about Hispanic women. So what we're looking for are environmental clues that might provide an answer." Although he acknowledges statistics that indicate Latinas who are long time U.S. residents are more likely to use tobacco and alcohol, he believes that "it's a more complicated issue than that." He adds, "Stress has a real impact on pregnancy. [W]e may be seeing among Latinas who have lived here longer ... lifestyle changes that could be leading to more stress, like working more." Dr. Lee Adams, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at San Joaquin General, agrees, noting that nearly 60% of his Latina patients are farmworkers. He states, "Prematurity is a problem particularly among people working long hard hours doing hard work." Both Adams and Lee hope that the results will "lead to better prenatal care for all women in the United States, where overall, women have the highest rate of birth complications of any developed country" (Martin, 8/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.