Population Council, USA
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Womens Health Care
African-American (AA) women are 2.5 times more likely to give birth to a low birth weight or very low birth weight infants. In 2010, the national rate of Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) admissions was 12:100 live births, a 30% increase from 1981. Preterm births and low birth weight babies are the leading contributors to newborn death in the NICU. These babies are at greater risk for SIDS, developmental delays, and multiple short and long-term physical and psychological conditions. According to the Institute of Medicine the cost borne by the nation in 2010 from preterm birth was $26.2 billion dollars. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) are among many who recommend intervention during the preconception period in order to achieve the greatest rates of prevention. High levels of cumulative stress, building to allostatic loads and triggering epigenetic changes over the course of a lifetime, are cited as major contributors leading to delayed fetal growth and the onset of preterm birth. Current evidence suggests that racism is the root cause of persistent stress within the African-American community. Mind-body medicine techniques are proven promising practices in helping patients to decrease their automatic stress responses and instead substitute the ├ó┬?┬?relaxation response├ó┬?┬Ł. The resultant effect is a down regulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and improved resiliency. Unfortunately, AA women are less likely to ask for or receive preconception counseling or education. Midwives have a unique opportunity to provide preconception education and screening for their clients. This presentation will introduce the scientific evidence and promote the promising practice of culturally relevant mind-body preconception education to African-American women at risk for poor birth outcomes. This practice is expected to increase the number of African-American women who will receive preconception education and learn techniques to reduce their levels of stress and improve resiliency. That outcome should result in decreased rates of preterm and low birth weight infants among African-American women and a narrowing of racial and ethnic health disparities.
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