Not so Supportive? Black-White Differences in the Protective Effect of Social Support on Birthweight and Preterm Delivery

Courtney Thomas, Vanderbilt University

Previous studies consistently find noted racial differences in stress and perceived social support, as well as evidence of a buffering effect of social support against stress in pregnancy. What has not been established, however, is whether this effect is equal for all women. Data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) are used to examine race differences in the moderation effect of social support on stress with two outcomes: birthweight and premature delivery. Consistent with previous findings, the results indicate that while more stressful life events did not significantly increase risk for low birthweight or prematurity directly, social support did act as a buffer. Furthermore, there was a moderately significant black-white difference in this buffering effect. Although greater social support significantly reduces negative effects of stress for white women, this effect is not seen for black women, suggesting that social support is not equally protective for black and white women.

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Presented in Poster Session 2