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Contribution of Maternal Cardiometabolic Risk Factors to Racial-Ethnicity Disparities in Preterm Birth Subtypes

There are recognized racial-ethnic disparities in preterm birth and in maternal cardiometabolic risk factors likely linked to systemic racism. However, it is unclear the extent to which cardiometabolic risk factors contribute to the higher rates of preterm birth among minoritized populations. This study aimed to evaluate racial-ethnic disparities in preterm birth subtypes and the role of maternal cardiometabolic risk factors as mediators of the association between maternal race-ethnicity and preterm birth subtypes. This was a retrospective cohort study of 295,210 singleton live births from 2011 to 2018. Preterm birth subtypes were defined as medically indicated and spontaneous preterm birth. Poisson regression with robust standard errors were used to provide estimates of the relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for preterm birth subtypes. Causal mediation analysis used logistic regression models to estimate the natural direct and natural indirect (mediated) effects of maternal cardiometabolic risk factors. Compared with White individuals, Black, Asian, and Hispanic individuals were at increased risk for having both medically indicated preterm birth (1.45, 1.30-1.61; 1.21, 1.12-1.31; and 1.13, 1.05-1.22, respectively) (risk ratios, 95% confidence intervals, respectively) and spontaneous preterm birth (1.20, 1.08-1.34; 1.34, 1.26-1.43; and 1.16, (1.08-1.23), independent of established risk factors. The extent to which cardiometabolic risk factors mediated the associations between race-ethnicity (each group vs White in separate analyses) and preterm birth subtypes varied by race-ethnicity. Hypertensive disorders mediated 30.1% of the association between Black race-ethnicity and medically indicated preterm birth, but it did not mediate the association for other racial-ethnic groups or for spontaneous preterm birth. Any glucose disorder in pregnancy was a mediator of medically indicated preterm birth and spontaneous preterm birth for Asian (65.8% and 13.9%, respectively) and Hispanic (17.3% and 11.9%) race-ethnicity but not for Black race-ethnicity. Overweight or obesity mediated the association between race-ethnicity and medically indicated preterm birth (15.5% among Black individuals and 25.1% among Hispanic individuals) and spontaneous preterm birth (10.7% among Hispanic individuals) but was not a mediator among Asian individuals. Black, Asian, and Hispanic individuals are at increased risk for preterm birth. Maternal cardiometabolic risk factors partially mediate the associations between race-ethnicity and preterm birth subtypes but the extent varies by race-ethnicity. These findings suggest that strategies that improve and diminish differences in cardiometabolic health between race-ethnicity populations may diminish disparities in preterm birth.

Authors: Hedderson, Monique M; Xu, Fei; Dayo, Olumayowa M; Liu, Emily; Sridhar, Sneha; Lee, Catherine; Greenberg, Mara

Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2022 05;4(3):100608. Epub 2022-03-04.

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