High Time to Face Race

The high-profile childbirth difficulties of women like Serena Williams—who suffered blood clots after giving birth at 36—have highlighted racial inequities in maternal health long observed by Arline Geronimus of the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Decades ago, Geronimus’ research showed that older black women were more likely to face maternal health complications than their younger counterparts. The opposite was true of white women. Disproportionate “weathering” often renders black women biologically older than their chronological age.

But confronting the problem means shifting how society works, Geronimus says. For starters, that means directly addressing race-related factors in prenatal risk assessments.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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