A tale of two generations: Maternal skin color and adverse birth outcomes in Black/African American women

Academic Article


  • We examined how sociopolitical context (marked by generational cohort) and maternal skin color interacted to influence preterm delivery (PTD) rates in sample of Black women. Data were from 1410 Black women, ages 18–45 years, residing in Metropolitan Detroit, MI enrolled (2009–2011) in the Life-course Influences on Fetal Environments (LIFE) Study. Because we hypothesized that generational differences marked by changes in the sociopolitical context would influence exposure to racism, we categorized women into two cohorts by maternal birth year: a) Generation X, 1964–1983 and b) Millennial, 1984–1993. Descriptive results showed similar PTD rates by generational cohort, Generation X: 16.3% vs. Millennials: 16.1%. Yet, within each generation, PTD rates varied by women's skin tone (categorized: light, medium, and dark brown). Poisson regression models confirmed a significant interaction between generational cohort and maternal skin tone predicting PTD (P = 0.001); suggesting a salubrious association between light brown skin tone (compared to medium and dark) and PTD for Generation X. However, Millennials with medium and dark brown skin experienced lower PTD rates than their light Millennial counterparts. Research should consider sociopolitical context and the salience of skin tone bias when investigating racial health disparities, including those in perinatal health.
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    Author List

  • Slaughter-Acey JC; Brown TN; Keith VM; Dailey R; Misra DP
  • Volume

  • 265