Is Trump to Blame for Hike in Latina Preterm Births?

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A recent study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed a considerable increase in preterm births. More specifically, this research highlighted the hike in Latina preterm births leading to Trump’s election in 2016. 

We can’t deny that the election of 2016 was a very emotional one. These emotions were particularly heightened by having a candidate, Donald Trump, whose claims and promises were highly contrasted with what people had been used to from the Obama administration. Now the question is: Did his claims and questionable rhetoric of minorities cause enough stress to upset the statistics on preterm births within the Latina demographic in the United States?

Before I jump into the specifics of this study, let’s clarify a few things. First, let’s talk about preterm birth. 

Preterm birth or premature birth is scientifically described as any birth that occurs three weeks before its complete gestation period of 40 weeks. In other words, a birth is classified preterm when it comes before the start of the 37th week of gestation period. A preterm birth can put the baby at risk of future developmental issues and other complications. However, with all the technology we have nowadays, many premature babies end up leading a normal life. 

The study, named “Association of Preterm Births Among U.S. Latina Women With the 2016 Presidential Election,” was written by Alison Gemmill, Ralph Catalano, Joan Casey, Deborah Karasek, Héctor Alcalá, Holly Elser and Jacqueline M. Torres. In order to fulfill their study, the researchers used database provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC. The CDC is the one responsible for tracking many things, including all the live preterm births in the United States. Using their online database, the researchers then studied the trends of live preterm births based on race/ethnicity and by month from January 2009 to July 2017. Once they had a clear understanding of the trends, they went ahead and created a hypothesis or an estimate about how many preterm births the United States was going to witness following their nine-month research, and of course, the variable being the unfolding of the 2016 election. They followed pregnant Latinas from November 2016 to July 2017. This estimate dictated how many Latinas were going to give preterm births in 2016. It is important to note that they didn’t differentiate Latinas by being foreign-born or U.S. born. Their study was merely based off self-identifying Latinas. 

To their surprise, their estimates were surpassed. 

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, showed 3.2 to 3.6 percent more Latina preterm births than originally estimated. This meant that there was an additional 1,342 male and 995 female preterm births to Latina women. This outcome is suggested to have been correlated to the presidential election that took place within the time of the research. 

Though the authors of the research suggested that these preterm births were a direct correlation to the election, they said that their study is not grounds to suggest that the election was the actual cause of preterm births to Latina women.

“Because mothers and children are particularly vulnerable to psychosocial stress, our findings suggest that political campaigns, rhetoric and policies can contribute to increased levels of preterm birth,” said Alison Gemmill, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and author of the study.

Truly, I can see how the election of 2016 could have affected Latina preterm births. 

Ever since Donald Trump has been in the picture, things haven’t been the same for minorities in the United States, especially if you’re Latinx. I’m not just saying that because I am part of the Latinx community, but because of some tasteless comments he’s made since he first announced he was going to run for president.

Remember when he set the tone for his campaign by insulting Mexicans? 

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Mind you, a lot of Americans (not all) consider anyone of the Latinx community Mexicans because that’s as far as their willingness to understand such a vast community goes.  So, imagine how that would have made pregnant Latinas feel.

During his campaign, Donald Trump made a lot of promises that seemingly attacked Latinx people and other minorities. He promised to end DACA and implement stricter immigration laws. This, of course, couldn’t have been taken so lightly by immigrants, including Latinas. 

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Talks about the removal of DACA program may have caused some stress for pregnant Latinas and eventually their newborn. This program had offered protection for many children without legal status in the United States and having that taken away may have caused Latinas to stress about the uncertain future of their babies. 

Shortly after his election, he made it a point to take action towards what he had promised. Without much remorse, he took action against immigration policies and rules that had once been in place to protect immigrants in the United States. Some of those actions included: 

  • Mass deportations
  • Ending DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program)
  • Reducing refugee admission
  • Increasing the arrests of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. 
  • Cancelling the program named TPS, Temporary Protected Status, which had protected immigrants of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan
  • Making suggestions that Hondurans and Salvadorans may get their work authorization and protection revoked

Sadly, he has continued making changes that has mainly affected minorities. All of which has been taken well by his impressive following of white nationalist, purists, and conservative Christians. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that all the Latinas involved in this study were necessarily going to be directly affected by these drastic changes. 

For instance, some of the Latinas who went into preterm labor might have felt uneasy due to someone near them being affected by these policy changes. Aside from that, some Latinas could have also felt they couldn’t seek help to issues pertaining to their pregnancy. This could have been because of the growing unfavorable climate towards Latinx people they were experiencing. What’s even more worrisome is that some of these Latinas, whether they were documented or not, may have thought they were going to be exposed to negative consequences from the government if they asked for help. 

Without a doubt, all of this could have played a role in the increase of Latina preterm births. 

It’s really ironic to have Donald Trump amidst of this study, especially since he’s  apparently such an advocate for unborn children. I just hope psychological treatment becomes more common in prenatal care in the future as I don’t think politics will lessen their blows to under-represented communities anytime soon. Just keep in mind that every pregnant woman and every child can still receive medical care, regardless of their legal status or any particular situation. 

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