Learn more about African American pregnancy issues and what can be done about them.

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Working Definitions

Disparities reduction: health disparities are differences in health outcomes and their causes among groups of people. Reducing health disparities is a major goal of public health. Achieving health equity, eliminating disparities, and improving the health of all U.S. population groups is one of the goals of Healthy People 2020 .

Cultural responsive approach to infant mortality: involves stress reduction for the mother, developing positive support networks for mothers, fathers, and other family members, co-parenting (no matter the relationship status), and early introduction to prenatal care.

Epigenetics: suggests that the experiences of previous generations affect who we are. For example, traumatic experiences can be passed down through the generations and even significantly affect the lives of grandchildren. A woman's diet during pregnancy seems to have a major impact on her baby's epigenetic tags. 

Historical trauma: is an example of intergenerational trauma. Family members who did not experience a trauma could feel the event generations later. It refers to the cumulative emotional and psychological factors in an individual or generation caused by a traumatic experience/s or event.

Institutional and structural racism/Institutional and structural bias: is built into the structure of society. A result of the structure and functioning of public institutions and public policies. Any arrangement or practice within a social institution or its related organizations that tend to favor one race or ethnic group over another. Structural racism understands and explores history to make sense of current inequities such as racial distribution of resources, politicized racial identities, individual experiences of racism, and policies, practices and ideas that support racism.

Toxic stress: is a term used by psychologists and developmental neurobiologists to describe the kinds of experiences, particularly in childhood, that can affect brain architecture and brain chemistry. They typically are experiences that are bad for an individual during development such as severe abuse. Toxic stress explains how certain lifestyle factors such as diet, stress and exercise can change the way a person’s genes are formed which ultimately impacts overall health, disease risk, etc.

Trauma Informed Care: is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.