Thursday, July 1, 2010
Stress of Our Sisters
Stress kills. There has been enough research to prove that. But is stress killing our mothers and babies, especially our black mothers and babies? I say, yes!
First, here is the recent evidence of racial disparity related to maternal /child health:
• A recent NY Times article stated that black women in New York are seven times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
• An article in a University of Wisconsin alumni magazine, said babies born in Sri Lanka have better health outcomes than black babies born in Milwaukee.
• Another study appeared in the Journal of Community Health concluding, despite socioeconomic differences, fatherless children born to black women had a seven-fold risk of death in contrast to infants born to Hispanic and white women in similar situations.
Now, a quick lesson, about how the human body copes with acute stress. Cortisol “the stress hormone” is released in increased amounts during stress and in turn, helps regulate the body’s many functions
• Proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance,
immune function, inflammatory response.
Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:
• a quick burst of energy for survival reasons, heightened memory functions, a burst of increase immunity, lower sensitivity to pain, helps maintain equilibrium in the body.
The problem: while cortisol will return to normal following a stressful event, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that it doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.