A study comparing rates of preterm birth among non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white women in Canada found that the rates were substantially higher among black women than white women, mirroring the disparity in the United States. The research study, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), is based on new cohort data from the Canadian Live Birth, Infant Death and Stillbirth Database linked with 2006 Canadian census data.
“Relative disparities in preterm birth and very preterm birth between non-Hispanic black and white women in Canada mirrored those in the US. This observation was contrary to our hypothesis, which was based on the different historical experiences of black populations in the 2 countries and evidence that socioeconomic and racial disparity in health and access to health care tend to be less extreme in Canada,” writes Dr. Britt McKinnon, Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, with coauthors.
The study included 91 045 live singleton births in Canada and just over 5 million live births in the US between May 2004 and May 2006. In Canada, 4.2% of all births were to women who self-identified as black compared with 20.5% in the US. Overall preterm birth rates were lower in Canada (6%) than in the US (9%). Preterm birth rates among black women in Canada were 8.9%, compared with 5.9% among white women. US rates were higher, at 12.7% and 8.0% respectively.
Foreign-born black women in Canada had preterm birth rates similar to those of native-born black women, unlike in the US, where foreign-born black women had lower preterm birth rates.