Healthiest pregnant women feel a strong sense of community

Aug 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- It takes a village to keep a pregnant woman at her healthiest, a new University of Michigan study shows.

The study compared African American and European American women and women of lower and higher socioeconomic status to see what effects communalism, or a strong sense of community, had on African American women and women of lower socioeconomic status.

The pregnant and women of lower socioeconomic status had overall higher levels of stress, negative effect and blood pressure than women of higher status based on race or education and income. However, these ethnic and socioeconomic disparities were not observed among women with higher communalism.

The study followed 297 African American and European American women through 32 weeks of pregnancy. Results suggest that a sense of community was more important for a pregnant woman's mental health than ethnicity or socioeconomic status over the lifespan, said Cleopatra Abdou, a social health psychologist who completed the study as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at U-M School of Public Health.

The findings of Abdou and her colleagues also suggest that communalism negates the effects of status and lower socioeconomic status on a pregnant woman's blood pressure.

"This paper suggests that it can be very important to distinguish culture from ethnicity and social status, not only as concepts, but also in terms of effects on health and other important life outcomes," said Abdou, who starts this fall as assistant professor at USC in the Davis School of .

"I think it's critical to put these results in context. Communalism is associated with better health, especially for women of color and women who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage at some point in the lifespan," Abdou said. "Nevertheless, we see very clear evidence that higher is associated with higher communalism, regardless of your . It seems that it's just easier to have more of every type of resource, including cultural resources, in this case communalism, when you have more money,"

The paper is scheduled to appear this month in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Explore further: Two and a half thousand women could benefit from mitochondrial donation in the UK

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Financial hardship contributes to diagnosis anxiety

Feb 08, 2010

A new analysis has found that women with medium or low levels of income are particularly susceptible to anxiety and depression after being diagnosed with the precancerous breast condition, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). ...

ER/PR negative tumors associated with insurance status

Nov 18, 2008

African-American women are at a higher risk for ER/PR negative breast cancer. A new study, to be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention ...

Recommended for you

Health insurers using drug coverage to discriminate

2 hours ago

Some insurers offering health plans through the new federal marketplace may be using drug coverage decisions to discourage people with HIV from selecting their plans, according to a new study from Harvard ...

Why medical debt – and bankruptcy – are growing problems

4 hours ago

Burdensomely high medical costs are often blamed for pushing many Americans into bankruptcy. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau some 43 million Americans have unpaid medical debt on their credit reports. ...

California declares electronic cigarettes a health threat

4 hours ago

California health officials on Wednesday declared electronic cigarettes a health threat that should be strictly regulated like tobacco products, joining other states and health advocates across the U.S. in seeking tighter ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.