Trump’s Attack On The Latino Community Is Being Attached To A Rise In Premature Deaths In The Latina Community
We all know the saying that hindsight is 20/20. Well, hindsight can be as little as nine months for medical research teams that study the links between premature birth rates and maternal stress. It’s long been codified in the medical community that acute stress in pregnant women leads to premature births. The rate of premature births has then been used to study certain populations of women.
An established medical journal, JAMA Network Open, published a study that shows in the nine months since Trump’s presidential election in November 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent premature births occurred in the Latina population.
A study is specifically calling out “political campaigns, rhetoric and policies” as being possible stress factors for the rise in premature births within the Latina community.
Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Alison Gemmill authored the study. Gemmill explicitly wrote that “because mothers and children are particularly vulnerable to psychosocial stress, our findings suggest that political campaigns, rhetoric, and policies can contribute to increased levels of preterm birth.”
Gemmill suggests further research to determine causality between the Trump election and the births.
Science is science for a reason. The study showed a strong correlation between the election and the premature births, and that’s the first step to determine causality. Another study will be needed in order to determine whether the election directly caused premature births in Latina mothers.
The data includes 32.9 million live births total, taken from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online database.
The conclusions are much more significant given that the data pool is so expansive. Those babies included had been listed on their birth certificate to have a mother who identified as Hispanic. The babies were considered premature if they were born before 37 weeks’ gestation.
Baby boys had a higher rate of premature birth.
According to Gemmill, boys are statistically more “vulnerable” to maternal stress. This data point is a clue that “provides further support that the election could be viewed as a population stressor.” The study shows that 11 percent of births to boys were premature and 9.6 percent of births to girls were premature among Latina mothers. Compared to the rest of the population, 10.2 percent of boys were born prematurely while 9.3 percent of girls were born prematurely.
Compared to previous years, there were 2,337 more premature births to Latina women post-election.
That’s 2,337 babies who will grow up with the impacts of being born premature–babies with weakened immunity and underdeveloped systems.
Researchers would have liked to compare the data between U.S.-born Latina women and immigrant Latina women. That would be important to know because immigrant women have lower rates of preterm births.
Another possible explanation is that there were fewer immigrant Latinas giving birth in the U.S. post-election.
“We think there are very few alternative explanations for these results. One possible explanation could be if there was a sudden change in the composition of Latina women giving birth around the time of the election,” Gemmill said. “A drop in the number of foreign-born women among all Latina women giving birth immediately after the election could have contributed to observed increases in preterm birth.”
The study concluded in July 2017, but Gemmill wants to know what is going on for Latina women.
Another associate professor of epidemiology at Emory’s University’s Rollins School of Public Health, Michael Kramer, chimed in. Kramer says that Latina women are statistically more resilient “than we might expect given socioeconomic status.” That’s why it’s so surprising to see a “meaningful jump in preterm birth.”
Gemmill says it’s “an important and unique illustration of the relationship between hostile immigration climate and health.” We need to know what is going on for Latina women.
Researcher Nancy Krieger’s own study concluded that “divisive political rhetoric…causes bodily harm and it’s a harm that can be transmitted from one generation to the next.”
Krieger is a professor of social epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. She participated in a study that saw a 0.3 percent jump in preterm births in New York City alone, with the most significant increase seen in Latina women.
“Yes, there is an old adage: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,'” she said. “Actually divisive political rhetoric that is dehumanizing and that induces fear does cause harm. It causes bodily harm and it’s a harm that can be transmitted from one generation to the next.”