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Well-adjusted moms have healthy births

rimester of pregnancy, researchers administered questionnaires and conducted interviews over two appointments.

White women gave birth to babies who were significantly heavier than babies of Hispanic women (an average of 3,504 grams versus 3,244 grams). They also expressed greater optimism, self-esteem, and - mastery - that is, a feeling of control over one's destiny.

There were no ethnic differences in gestational age at birth (39 weeks), nor did the groups differ in stress levels, which included both general and pregnancy-related anxiety. Pregnancy-related anxiety includes a woman's fears about her own health, her baby's health, and labor and delivery.

Psychological resources and stress, rather than ethnicity, predicted what kind of births the women would have.

"White women's more favorable psychological resources were associated with their greater likelihood of being married and having higher income and more education," said Rini. "Hispanics, on the other hand, had less positive views of themselves, their futures, and their ability to control events in their lives. This may be caused by language barriers, financial problems, separation from loved ones, racial discrimination, and possibly a cultural tendency towards fatalistic explanations for events."

The research was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Health Psychology is the official, peer-reviewed research journal of the Division of Health Psychology (Division 38), American Psychological Association. For information about the journal, please contact its editor, David Krantz, PhD, at 310-295-3273.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health www.cfah.org. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, pchong@cfah.org 202- 387-2829.


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Contact: Christine Killingsworth Rini, M.A., C.Ph.
ckilling@ucla.edu
310-206-8116
Center for the Advancement of Health
9-Jul-1999


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