Healthiest pregnant women feel a strong sense of community

August 2, 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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

0 comments

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.