When the Bough Breaks

For the Health Equity quiz I did fairly poor on it. I thought i had a good idea on all of the questions but it turned out i was being too generous to the United States. The statistic I found the most surprising was the fact that the United States was ranked 29th in the world based upon life expectancy. And according to Wiki, we now rank 35th. Its a little upsetting that we consider ourselves the greatest country out there and yet we lack the necessary tools and knowledge to be the leading country in life expectancy. The U.S. virgin islands and Puerto Rico rank higher than us.. and we own them!

From the list of Unnatural Causes, I chose to summarize When the Bough Breaks. This episode was targeted on why and how being apart of a certain race affects birth weights. They focused primarily on African American women and why the children they give birth to had a significant decrease in birth weight and also delivered babies prematurely. They interviewed an African American woman named Kim Anderson who was living the ‘American Dream’. She had a high education, great job, social life, husband, diet, and family yet she gave birth to her first child two and a half months early. Scientists thought this trend was genetic but quickly denied that idea. Kim confessed that her race had in the past made things harder on her life and had caused her stress. In certain stores she was followed or treated differently which did not settle very well with her. The researchers related the premature births to stress, which seemed to fit. It makes sense though, African Americans are discriminated regularly based upon their race in everyday life. This causes loads of stress on the African American race. Stress hormones can skyrocket and when they reach a certain level they can trigger a pregnant woman to go into labor early. This explains why so many African American mothers have premature birth-weighted babies.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Breanna Ramsay says:

    I have had to watch “When the Bough Breaks” in my ANP 270- Women and Health: Anthropological and International Perspectives course. I know in the film they included clips of an anthropologist, sociologist and epidemiologist conducting a focus group that works to address the problems African American woman face with racism. Through this group they try and find ways to provide them with support and resources to handle the stressors racism cause. I feel like the health care system should begin to recognize that racism is a stressor that effects expecting African American women and that it puts them at a greater risk for preterm birth.

    I guess in some way the solution to this problem would be political or related to the government, especially with the health care reform going on right now. I think programs that bring forward helpful information related to the greater risks of preterm births African American woman face that can be caused by stressors created by racism would be incredibly useful. The creation of a campaign by health officials could help more people realize that this is a problem that is faced by millions of women. I know I was incredibly surprised by Kim’s interview the first time I saw the film. I could not figure out why she had given birth prematurely when she was living the “American Dream”, but as you explained stress brought on by being treated differently because of her race had triggered her to go into birth early.

  2. James Conwell says:

    Based on the summary that Lindsey provided, it is clear that racism, and stress related to racism, is the cause of low birth weight and premature births among African American women. The main solution would clearly be to remove stress from racism, but that is more difficult said than done. My solution to fix racism is to improve the education system. If the education system was improved so that tolerance was taught, and cultural understanding and learning occurred, then there would be fewer issues with racism. Further, there would be less of an inequality gap if every education system all throughout the country were more equal, then everyone would have a better opportunity to succeed, and hopefully lead to less stress amongst racial groups. My solution is both individual and political, because it requires a political movement to be able to push to improve education and to teach individual awareness, but an individual change to be able to be more aware of racism and cultural differences.
    There are several groups that should be responsible for solving this particular health disparity. It would require doctors to report the health disparity in a way that allows a large segment of the population to understand the issue. Then, it must be the locals in a community, and the people of a country to advocate and push for a solution to the issue, and finally, it must be the government that institutionalizes the solution to the health disparity. Ultimately, it is the job of every facet of society to solve a problem that is so gravely disparaging, and damaging to society as birth problems due to stress from racism.

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