Maternal experiences of ethnic discrimination and subsequent birth outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand

Zaneta Thayer*, Laia Bécares, Polly Atatoa Carr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Interpersonal discrimination experience has been associated with adverse birth outcomes. Limited research has evaluated this relationship within multicultural contexts outside the United States where the nature and salience of discrimination experiences may differ. Such research is important in order to help identify protective and risk factors that may mediate the relationship between discrimination experience and adverse birth outcomes. Methods: Evaluated the relationship between perceived discrimination, as measured in pregnancy, with birth weight and gestation length among Māori, Pacific, and Asian women from Aotearoa New Zealand (N = 1653). Results: Thirty percent of the sample reported some type of unfair treatment that they attributed to their ethnicity. For Māori women specifically, unfair treatment at work (β =-243 g) and in acquiring housing (β =-146 g) were associated with lower birth weight when compared to Māori women not experiencing these types of discrimination, while an ethnically motivated physical attack (β =-1.06 week), and unfair treatment in the workplace (β =-0.95 week), in the criminal justice system (β =-0.55 week), or in banking (β =-0.73 week) were associated with significantly shorter gestation. Conclusions: Despite a high prevalence of discrimination experience among women from all ethnic groups, discrimination experience was a strong predictor of lower birth weight and shorter gestation length among indigenous Māori women only. Additional research is needed to better understand the risk and protective factors that may moderate the relationship between discrimination experience and adverse birth outcomes among women from different ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1271
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2019

Keywords

  • Health disparities
  • Indigenous health
  • Intergenerational effects
  • Racism

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