Maternal and infant mortality is consistently on the rise for Black women and babies. Despite dramatic improvements in technology, health care, and access to health care; Black women continue to have higher rates of pregnancy complications, pregnancy related deaths, infant deaths, and increase risk for chronic disease postpartum. Brittney is training to be a social epidemiologist with a research interest that focuses on understanding the extent to which structural racism and interpersonal experiences of racial discrimination impact pregnancy complications and outcomes for both mothers and infants. Historical and current policy continue to shape women’s ability to have healthy pregnancy and live overall healthy lives by impacting both health behaviors and physiological changes in the body due to racialized stress. Brittney is interested in conceptualizing and measuring how structural racism, such as segregation and disparate incarceration, personally impacts Black women’s pregnancies, their infants and their postpartum health.
MORE ABOUT BRITTNEY
Brittney, daughter of Jamaican immigrants, saw first-hand the changes in pregnancies in her family. Her mother had three pregnancies after coming to the United States. The first pregnancy, Brittney, resulted in a low birthweight infant. The second resulted in a stillbirth and third pregnancy was plagued with gestational diabetes, resulting in a premature delivery, small-for-gestational-age infant with jaundice in the NICU. While shadowing in an obstetric office, during undergrad, Brittney realized not only was this trend more common than she thought, but it was happening to Black women far more than the other women in the practice. Brittney became intrigued with why these disparate outcomes were happening despite similarities in access to health care, education, income and prenatal care. Brittney aims to continue to research why Black women have such poor outcomes and address how systematic racism shapes their lives and experiences.
DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — JULY 2019
Examination of Exposures to Anti-Black Racism Over the Lifecourse and their Association with Pregnancy Induced Hypertensive Disorders Among Black Women
Black women are disproportionately burdened by pregnancy induced hypertensive disorders (PIHDs) compared to women of all other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Until very recently, Black race was listed as a risk factor for PIHDs, due to an inability to explain these disparities. My dissertation research explored the relationship between various levels of anti-Black racism and PHIDs among Black women using a mixed method approach to (1) highlight how structural racism at the neighborhood level impacts individual pregnancy outcomes for Black women, (2) dispel the narrative that Black race is a meaningful clinical risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes, and (3) inform equitable policy solutions to create neighborhoods where all people can thrive and live healthy lives.
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