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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: Racist Experiences and Skin Tone Discrimination Linked to Delays in Prenatal Care

The University of Minnesota School of Public Health led a study examining if experiences of microaggression in daily life, such as being told a racist joke, among African American women correspond to delays in seeking prenatal care. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study, led by assistant professor Dr. Jaime Slaughter-Acey, also checked to see how prenatal care use varied across women with light brown, medium brown, or dark brown skin complexions. Skin tone is associated with a form of discrimination called colorism, which is the practice of assigning cultural privilege and disadvantage based on the color of one’s skin. 

The researchers gathered their data from interviews and medical records of 1,410 African American mothers who gave birth at a hospital in Detroit, MI. 

The study results showed:

“News stories and other research report many black mothers feel devalued and treated differently than other races by health providers, and I think this study reflects that,” said Dr. Slaughter-Acey. “For women with light or dark skin, the findings indicate their experiences with stigma, bullying, and discrimination result in creating hypervigilence and avoidance of systems they anticipate will subject them to more of such treatment — including the health care system.“

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