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Soc Sci Med. 2009 Jul;69(2):258-65. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.03.022. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

Differences in the self-reported racism experiences of US-born and foreign-born Black pregnant women.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Southern California, 214 Montogomery Ross Fisher, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0411, USA.


Differential exposure to minority status stressors may help explain differences in United States (US)-born and foreign-born Black women's birth outcomes. We explored self-reports of racism recorded in a survey of 185 US-born and 114 foreign-born Black pregnant women enrolled in Project Viva, a prospective cohort study of pregnant women in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Self-reported prevalence of personal racism and group racism was significantly higher among US-born than foreign-born Black pregnant women, with US-born women having 4.1 and 7.8 times the odds, respectively, of childhood exposure. In multivariate analyses, US-born women's personal and group racism exposure also was more pervasive across the eight life domains we queried. Examined by immigrant subgroups, US-born women were more similar in their self-reports of racism to foreign-born women who moved to the US before age 18 than to women who immigrated after age 18. Moreover, US-born women more closely resembled foreign-born women from the Caribbean than those from Africa. Differential exposure to self-reported racism over the life course may be a critically important factor that distinguishes US-born Black women from their foreign-born counterparts.

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