THURSDAY, May 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — During the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, structural racism and community unemployment were associated with an increased risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and preterm birth (PTB), according to a study published online April 21 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Teresa Janevic, Ph.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues examined associations between neighborhood measures of structural racism and pandemic stress with SARS-CoV-2 infection, PTB, and delivering a newborn small for gestational age (SGA). The analysis included 967 patients from a prospective cohort of pregnant persons in New York City.

The researchers found an association between high structural disadvantage and risk for infection (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 2.6; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.7 to 3.9) and PTB (aRR, 1.7; 95 percent CI, 1.0 to 2.9) versus low structural disadvantage. For high versus low racial-economic segregation, there were associations for infection (aRR, 1.9; 95 percent CI, 1.3 to 2.8) and PTB (aRR, 2.0; 95 percent CI, 1.3 to 3.2). Similarly, for high community unemployment, there was increased risk for infection (aRR, 1.7; 95 percent CI, 1.2 to 1.5) and PTB (aRR, 1.6; 95 percent CI, 1.0 to 2.8). There was no association noted between COVID-19 mortality rate and either PTB or SGA.

“Our study demonstrates that pregnant persons of color are disproportionately impacted by SARS-CoV-2 infection and pandemic-related community stressors,” the authors write. “Mitigating structural racism and socioeconomic inequity could reduce the impact of the pandemic on pregnant persons.”

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