How climate change could contribute to racial maternal-health disparities

Meera Jagannathan
How climate change could contribute to racial maternal-health disparities

Pregnant women’s exposure to extreme heat raises their risk of being hospitalized, according to a new working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research — and black women, as in other pregnancy outcomes, appear to be more severely impacted than white women. What’s more, greater exposure to extreme heat can increase a newborn’s likelihood of a dehydration diagnosis and subsequent chances of returning to the hospital within the first year of life, the study found, for diagnoses including respiratory diseases and prenatal jaundice. “Our findings suggest that, in the absence of mitigating interventions, the projected increase in exposure to extreme heat over the next century may contribute to further worsening of maternal health,” wrote study authors Jiyoon Kim, Maya Rossin-Slater and Ajin Lee, assistant professors at Elon University, Stanford University’s School of Medicine and Michigan State University, respectively.