Culture, racial identity and mood effects on birth outcomes of African-American mothers in Alabama

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study was to determine if racial identity, acculturation, depression and or anxiety would predict birthweight in African Americans. Multiple linear regression was conducted and results indicated that racial identity predicted birthweight. African American mothers who identified with having a stronger racial identity reported having low birthweight babies less often than those who scored lower on racial identity. These findings are consistent with those that support other positive effects of racial identity, such as higher self-esteem and less risk-taking behaviors among youth. Further exploration of racial identity revealed self image as the essential element of predicting birthweight. Results also indicated that for African American mothers between the ages of 21 and 35, birthweight decreases as mothers' age increase. This finding is congruent with the weathering hypothesis which states that the health of African-American women may begin to deteriorate in early adulthood; thereby suggesting that the optimal age for childbirth for African Americans may be earlier than most research suggest. More research is needed to explore the effects of racial identity and self image on birthweight among a more diverse group of mothers. Additional research should also compare women from different parts of the country and migration time in the U. S. to re-examine the possible effects of acculturation.

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Individual & family studies, African American studies