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Messer, Lynne C. & Kaufman, Jay S. (2010). Invited Commentary: The Socioeconomic Causes of Adverse Birth Outcomes. American Journal of Epidemiology, 172(2), 135-137. PMCID: PMC3139972


Weathering—the cumulative burden of adverse psychosocial and economic circumstances on the bodies of minority women—has been repeatedly described in epidemiologic studies. The most common application has been the documentation of rapidly increasing risks of adverse birth outcomes as African-American women age. Previous work has been based largely on cross-sectional data that aggregate women across a variety of socioeconomic circumstances. When more specific information about women's life-course socioeconomic status is taken into account, however, heterogeneity in the weathering experience of African-American women becomes more readily apparent. Adverse birth outcome risk trajectories with advancing age for African-American women who reside in wealthier neighborhoods look much more similar to those of white women. The accompanying article by Love et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2010;000(00):0000–0000) provides a more nuanced investigation of the social conditions that contribute to the weathering of African-American women and points to the critical role played by social and economic conditions over the life course in producing adverse birth outcome disparities.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Epidemiology


Messer, Lynne C.
Kaufman, Jay S.