Spontaneous pre-term births, also known as premature births, are births that occur before the 37th week of pregnancy. The leading cause of stillbirths in the US, pre-term births occur in 12-13% of all pregnancies. African-American women experience a higher rate of pre-term births at 17-18%.
Building on the knowledge that family history is a risk factor, a recent study has linked these births to genetic elements. The study’s findings – that, while “no single gene” accounts for pre-term birth, there are a number of genes that may be associated with it – support earlier research suggesting that genetic factors affect pre-term birth susceptibility.
It's great to see researchers addressing this important distinction in pre-term birth rates among women of color. We hope that with more research like this, the disparities in reproductive health care access that disproportionately affect women of color will be better understood and addressed.
More information can be found here.