For black Americans, life expectancy is four years below fellow whites

The CDC’s Vital Signs report found that blacks aged 35-64 are 50 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. — AFP picThe CDC’s Vital Signs report found that blacks aged 35-64 are 50 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. — AFP picMIAMI, May 3 — African-Americans have made gains in life expectancy but major disparities remain in the United States, where blacks can expect to live about four years fewer than whites, US researchers said yesterday.

In the past two decades, the gap in death rates between blacks and whites narrowed dramatically — going from 33 per cent in 1999 to 16 per cent in 2015, said the report by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The death rate for blacks alone fell 25 per cent in that time period.

Despite these advances, younger black men still tend to die far younger than whites, according to the CDC report, describing this trend as a “concern.”

“Blacks in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in whites, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes,” said a CDC statement.

The CDC’s Vital Signs report found that blacks aged 35-64 are 50 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites.

It also said blacks aged 18-49 are two times as likely to die from heart disease as whites.

Cancer was far more often a killer among African-Americans, who “have the highest death rate for all cancers combined compared with whites,” said the report.

Violence contributed to the gap, too, with blacks aged 18-34 nine times more likely than whites of the ame age to die from homicide.

“Notably, the death rates for homicide among blacks did not change over the 17 years of the study,” said the report.

Health causes

Advances have been made in treating heart disease, and the effect was apparent, particularly among older people.

“The racial death rate gap closed completely for deaths from heart disease and for all causes of death among those 65 years and older,” said the report.

Deaths from HIV have dropped dramatically since 1999, falling 80 per cent among blacks in the ages range of 18 to 49.

Still, blacks are seven to nine times more likely to die from HIV than whites, said the report.

“We have seen some remarkable improvements in death rates for the black population in these past 17 years,” said Leandris Liburd, associate director of CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.

“Important gaps are narrowing due to improvements in the health of the black population overall. However, we still have a long way to go.”

In the only major developed country lacking national health care for all, the factors that contribute to the gap in life expectancy include poverty, lower educational attainment and home ownership among blacks.

“These risk factors may limit blacks’ access to prevention and treatment of disease,” said the report.

The data for the study came from the US Census Bureau, National Vital Statistics System, and CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. — AFP

Death Rates Fall for Blacks in the U.S. But Problems Remain

Death rates have fallen by 25 percent for African-Americans since 1999, but younger blacks are still dying far too young from diseases that shouldn’t kill them, government researchers said Tuesday.

There’s been a “dramatic” 80 percent drop in deaths from the AIDS virus HIV among blacks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. And for African-Americans over the age of 65, there’s almost no difference in death rates compared to whites.

Image: A patient is monitored in an examination room inside the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at Kaiser Permanente's Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC. Image: A patient is monitored in an examination room inside the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at Kaiser Permanente's Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC.

A patient is monitored in an examination room inside the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC. Brooks Kraft / Corbis via Getty Images

But younger blacks are not doing so well, the CDC team found.

“Blacks in their 20s, 30s and 40s are dying from … heart disease and diabetes,” CDC epidemiologist Timothy Cunningham, who led the study, told reporters.

One problem is that the risk factors for stroke, diabetes and heart disease are silent. High blood pressure or clogged arteries rarely cause symptoms until there’s considerable damage.

Related: Minorities Have More Heart Disease Risk, Even When Thin

Another problem is getting health care in the first place. “Blacks aged 18-34 years were less likely to have a personal doctor or health care provider than whites,” Cunningham’s team wrote in the report.

Overall, blacks under the age of 65 have a 40 percent higher death rate than whites the same age. A black child born in 2014 can expect to live to be 75.6, compared to 79 for a white child born that year.

“At ages 18-34 years, blacks had higher death rates than whites for eight of the 10 leading causes of death among blacks in that age group (heart disease; cancer; cerebrovascular disease; diabetes mellitus; homicide; HIV disease; and conditions resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium (recovery from childbirth),” the team wrote.

“In addition, blacks have the highest death rate and shorter survival rate for all cancers combined compared with whites in the United States.”

Related: Are African-Americans Locked Out?

And blacks are far more likely than whites to be murdered. “Homicide is the seventh highest cause of death among blacks and has not decreased to any extent in the past 17 years,” Cunningham said. “In blacks 18 to 34, it remains the No. 1 cause of death.”

Young adult blacks are nine times more likely to die by homicide as whites the same age, the team found.

Part of the problem is behavior, the team noted. All Americans — black, white, Hispanic and Asian — need to eat healthier food and exercise more, CDC says. Blacks are more likely than whites to be overweight or obese and to get little or no physical exercise.

Related: Where You Live Determines What Kills You

But the problem goes beyond that. “Blacks had significantly lower educational attainment and home ownership and almost twice the proportion of households below the poverty level compared with whites across the life span,” the team wrote.

“We have to invest in places where people live to make healthier choices the easy choice,” Cunningham said. “Where we live determines our health. Where we live determines the quality of housing, determines the schools we go to,” he added.

The Gantt Report: The Black Political Clap Back

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By:  Lucius Gantt

     There are two major political parties in the United States. There are Republicans and there are Democrats.

     Twenty years ago, most, if not all, of America’s statewide and local elected officials were Democrats. There were so few Republicans in office in many communities, Grand Old Party (GOP) members could have held their caucus meetings in a phone booth!

     Today, it seems like Republican elected officials run everything. A Republican is in the White House,  Republicans are leaders in Congress of the House of Representatives and the Senate and the same is true in a whole lot of states, cities and counties!

     The Gantt Report wrote years ago that one reason for the change in political party dominance was the Republican party dominance in political science, political technology and political communications.

      People read about the demise of the party that African Americans love but they dismissed or denied it because the prediction of that demise came from a dark-skinned political writer.

      Well, political dominance is not the end. Winning elected offices is not the final political goal or purpose.

      Some Republicans in powerful positions have called for the “destruction of the state”. They want to reverse everything political. They want to change everything governmental and they want to destroy every political thing that people have ever wanted from government, such as health care, military security, civil rights, voting rights and so on.

     If Republicans in office are “ultra conservative” how do they try to influence American citizens to see things their way and support the terrible policies the ultra conservatives want to implement?

     They put a face on the opposition, a Black face!

     Many Republicans, especially many Republicans in Washington, D.C., will blame anything and everything that they can portray as bad, as negative or as undesirable on the N-word!

     This is wrong and enough is enough!

     When you have a President that is a political pretender that acts like he cares, that poses as your leader and is a habitual liar, you will have enormous political problems.

     If your insurance rates are too high, blame the Black President. If your intelligence agencies say people in the White House are political puppets of a foreign enemy and Congressional and law enforcement agencies begin investigations, you divert and distract the investigations by calling for investigations of the former National security Chief, another N-word. If an international military crisis pops up, again, blame the N-Word.

     The recalcitrant and reactionary political and community so-called leaders that you love are reluctant to say a mumbling word and the political party won’t step up their opposition to the many bad things that are said and done by people in power because they can’t. They don’t know how to respond.

     They also, perhaps, don’t want to offend the big money political contributors that are sought by both Democrats and Republicans.

     If the politicians that you voted for are afraid to comment about how the President of the United States constantly does wrongful things and puts the blame on the former President, Barack Obama, then I will do it.

     The Gantt Report is not afraid to “clap back”, so to speak!

      The idea, the practice and the habit of blaming crime, war, health care problems, educational problems, housing problems on Black people must be exposed, discredited, fought against and resisted!

     Stop being scared to stand up. Stop being scared to speak out!

     Stop being scared of biased, bigoted government leaders that surround themselves with closet klansmen, white supremacists, crooks, cronies and political yes men and yes women”!

      It is time for the Black political clap back! Barack Obama is no personal friend of mine but it is wrong to blame him for everything wrong in America and in the world! (Buy Gantt’s latest book, “Beast Too: Dead Man Writing” onAmazon.com and from bookstores everywhere. Contact Lucius at www.allworldconsultants.net. And, if you want to,“Like” The Gantt Report page on Facebook.)

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AKAs At American University Threatened With Bananas Hanging From Nooses

On Monday, bananas hanging on strings tied as nooses were found on American University‘s campus in Washington, D.C.

NBC Washington reports that the bananas had the letters “AKA” written on them which has led investigators and students to believe the threatening gesture was aimed at the Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha.

The hanging fruits were spotted on three different trees on campus and were soon posted on social media. They were also found on the same day that Student Government Association president Taylor Dumpson, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, started her new position. She is the first black woman in the role, so there’s your motive.

AU President Neil Kerwin released a statement in regards to the incident:

I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is. While this incident targeted AU’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and occurred after the first black woman and AKA member was sworn in as the Student Government president—our entire university community has been adversely affected by this cowardly, despicable act.

This comes less than a year after another African-American woman said that she had a banana thrown at her, as well as another rotten banana left at her dorm room door which also had obscene language written on it.

The hanging bananas are being treated as a hate crime.

Photo: Youtube Screenshot

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Death Rates Fall for U.S. Blacks

Death rates have fallen by 25 percent for African-Americans since 1999, but younger blacks are still dying far too young from diseases that shouldn’t kill them, government researchers said Tuesday.

There’s been a “dramatic” 80 percent drop in deaths from the AIDS virus HIV among blacks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. And for African-Americans over the age of 65, there’s almost no difference in death rates compared to whites.

Image: A patient is monitored in an examination room inside the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at Kaiser Permanente's Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC. Image: A patient is monitored in an examination room inside the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at Kaiser Permanente's Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC.

A patient is monitored in an examination room inside the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC. Brooks Kraft / Corbis via Getty Images

But younger blacks are not doing so well, the CDC team found.

“Blacks in their 20s, 30s and 40s are dying from … heart disease and diabetes,” CDC epidemiologist Timothy Cunningham, who led the study, told reporters.

One problem is that the risk factors for stroke, diabetes and heart disease are silent. High blood pressure or clogged arteries rarely cause symptoms until there’s considerable damage.

Related: Minorities Have More Heart Disease Risk, Even When Thin

Another problem is getting health care in the first place. “Blacks aged 18-34 years were less likely to have a personal doctor or health care provider than whites,” Cunningham’s team wrote in the report.

Overall, blacks under the age of 65 have a 40 percent higher death rate than whites the same age. A black child born in 2014 can expect to live to be 75.6, compared to 79 for a white child born that year.

“At ages 18-34 years, blacks had higher death rates than whites for eight of the 10 leading causes of death among blacks in that age group (heart disease; cancer; cerebrovascular disease; diabetes mellitus; homicide; HIV disease; and conditions resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium (recovery from childbirth),” the team wrote.

“In addition, blacks have the highest death rate and shorter survival rate for all cancers combined compared with whites in the United States.”

Related: Are African-Americans Locked Out?

And blacks are far more likely than whites to be murdered. “Homicide is the seventh highest cause of death among blacks and has not decreased to any extent in the past 17 years,” Cunningham said. “In blacks 18 to 34, it remains the No. 1 cause of death.”

Young adult blacks are nine times more likely to die by homicide as whites the same age, the team found.

Part of the problem is behavior, the team noted. All Americans — black, white, Hispanic and Asian — need to eat healthier food and exercise more, CDC says. Blacks are more likely than whites to be overweight or obese and to get little or no physical exercise.

Related: Where You Live Determines What Kills You

But the problem goes beyond that. “Blacks had significantly lower educational attainment and home ownership and almost twice the proportion of households below the poverty level compared with whites across the life span,” the team wrote.

“We have to invest in places where people live to make healthier choices the easy choice,” Cunningham said. “Where we live determines our health. Where we live determines the quality of housing, determines the schools we go to,” he added.

Alcohol linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in African American women

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Women’s Health | Tuesday, May 02, 2017 – 05:30 AM


Enjoying alcohol from time to time has become a sort of rite of passage for most people. It can calm the nerves, put you in a great mood, and even provide enough confidence to tell people how you really feel; for better or for worse. Alcohol consumption has also been linked to several health benefits, such as a reduced heart disease risk and even a possibly reduced risk of diabetes. However, this may only be true for moderate alcohol consumption. Those who chronically engage in excessive drinking are at risk for various negative health complications, such as liver disease, pancreatitis, and certain cancers. Recent studies have concluded that alcohol consumption raises the risk of breast cancer in African American women.

“Alcohol is an important modifiable exposure, whereas many other risk factors are not… women who are concerned about their risk of breast cancer could consider reducing levels of exposure,” said lead author Dr. Melissa A. Troester, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina.

While the correlation between breast cancer and alcohol consumption has already been established, this link was established primarily using a Caucasian population. The researchers found it necessary to discern whether this risk extended to the African American female population as well, enrolling only African American women for the large study.

The study consisted of 22,338 women from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium, with participants reporting their alcohol consumption via questionnaires. Researchers found that women who drank seven or more drinks per week showed an increased risk for almost all subtypes of breast cancer. Women who drank 14 or more alcoholic beverages per week were 33 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who consumed four or fewer drinks per week.

The researchers also noted that African American women seemed to drink less alcohol overall, compared to Caucasian women, possibly due to religious restrictions or health-related reasons. In this particular study, 45 percent of women never drank at all and, interestingly, these “never-drinkers” were found to be more likely to develop breast cancer than those who were considered light drinkers. However, the researchers stress that this study does not identify the causes for a higher risk in those who never drink alcohol. Previous studies have shown a similar increased risk of developing breast cancer in those who never drank alcohol but implicate coexisting conditions, such as diabetes, that prompted them to avoid alcohol.

The researchers admit that more research is required to fully understand which risk factors for breast cancer most significantly impact each race and that this study included relatively few women who drank heavily. The results did provide consistency with previous findings indicating that excessive amounts of alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Related: Stroke risk higher among alcohol drinkers with atrial fibrillation


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W. Kamau Bell Is Happy for the Chance to Talk to Alicia Garza

Bell, an executive producer of two televisions shows, host of a popular podcast that celebrates Denzel Washington, and community radio show activist, spoke with SF Weekly about contemporary young, Black artists being accepted by doing different, his CNN “day job,” and how his local radio show on KALW keeps him connected to the Bay Area.
You have described the Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period podcast as a “charming workshop” for working Black actors and actresses to discuss the culture and the craft of acting and the business behind the show. Does that make you keep close tabs on the awards shows?
It’s hard for me to get adjusted to the fact that I’m supposed to watch all the award shows. Years ago nobody expected me to watch the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. I’m happy for Viola Davis, obviously. I’m happy for Moonlight. Of course, I think Denzel should win every acting award, but I’m biased about that.
Do you ever think he will eventually do the podcast?
The podcast has been around long enough where we have seen other people ask him about it. And he’s never given any indication that he was even excited to hear that it existed. In fact, I keep waiting for one of his people to reach out to us and say, “Shut it down.” Believe me, if he wants to shut it down I’m fine with it.
What did you think of the  acclaim for Donald Glover’s Atlanta?
I’m happy whenever creator-driven projects get love. I think it’s better for everybody — especially people in Hollywood who are trying to make their own thing. I’m happy for Issa Rae with Insecure. Maybe she didn’t win any awards, but in one year, she went from having a niche thing to having a hit on HBO. That’s mainstream. And Donald Glover has aggressively gone his own way. He could have been a guy who just does sitcoms and movies. But he went his own way. I was watching him perform on The Tonight show as Childish Gambino with no shirt on. I was just like, “Damn!”
The great thing about Issa and Glover — and I’m older than both of them — these people didn’t grow up feeling like they couldn’t be themselves. They could be Black the way that they wanted. This is the generation that grew up behind me that just said, “Do your own damn thing.” I’m just happy to see Donald Glover get the role as Lando Calrissian because he was Childish Gambino first. He didn’t play the regular Hollywood game.
It’s interesting and gratifying to see the same guy do that record and Atlanta, and both projects are legitimate in their own right. When I was watching his performance on Fallon, if I didn’t know who Donald Glover was, I would think there is this other guy named Childish Gambino doing this whole other thing.
So your CNN show, United Shades of America, is doing a second season. What was the feedback on the first season?
The feedback has been better than I ever imagined. I mean, thanks to the 21st Century, you can get all aspects of feedback immediately! Whenever you are shooting the first season of a show, you always hope you can get the the second season. And then we started to pick up all these crazy awards. Crazy to me, because I did not expect to get all these award nominations. Emmy nominations and a couple of Image Awards.
These are all of these mainstream things that I never imagined myself being in. Even after I had Totally Biased, which was cancelled. I never imagined myself being in these places. It truly is an honor to be nominated for an Emmy. I totally did not expect to win. For me to even be asked to be at the Emmys with my wife just gave me some type of assurance that the past two years of my life, especially after Totally Biased, that I’ve made some good decisions and surrounded myself with some good people.
So between performing stand-up and doing your CNN show, which maintains a national platform, you still do your monthly live radio show, Kamau Right Now, on KALW in San Francisco. I heard the episode where you had on Alicia Garza from Black Lives Matter. And when her name was announced, the crowd just erupted. Like she was the reason everybody was there. No disrespect to you.
They should be! I feel like I’m still learning that show. We have only done it, in a calendar year, 10 or 11 times. I feel like every time we do it, I’m fairly new. But I’m happy to see that it has become this thing on it’s own. When we took it to Nourse Theater there were over 1,300 people in attendance — which, to me, is huge since I really didn’t promote it. I just put it up in certain places. … The show keeps me  connected to the Bay Area, which was real important to me when I came back from [living in] New York. It also gives me the opportunity to meet people in the Bay Area that I might not meet regularly.
So when I’m sitting across from Alicia Garza, and I hear her talk, it’s like, she’s right there. Forget that it’s a podcast or radio show. That in it of itself is where I want to be. So yeah, I get to hear Alicia Garza talk, and also other people at the show or listening to the podcast get to hear her as well. I think for me the great thing about being on radio is that somewhere on radio or online somebody is just listening to KALW. The show is on once a month, so the daily listener listens every night. So all of a sudden this thing happens, and either they agree with the people on the show or not, to me there is a lot of power in hearing what is actually said.
Alicia Garza has become a divisive figure amongst people who are racist or struggle with their own racism. So when that person hears this huge ovation from 1,300 people for her, it’s like, yeah. That’s what’s up. That’s whats happening. If I had less to do, I would do that once a week and make it my main thing. I’m just happy that Matt Marks over at KALW chose to collaborate with me.
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian comes out today, May 2.

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Trump Wonders Why US Civil War Occurred

U.S. President Donald Trump, in an interview Monday, asked why the Civil War, one of the country’s seminal events, occurred in the 19th century.

The history of the bloodiest war on U.S. soil is taught to school children across the country, but Trump remarked, “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War?

“Why could that one not have been worked out?” Trump said in the interview with the satellite radio carrier Sirius XM.

The U.S. Civil War, often called the War Between the States, was fought from 1861 to 1865, largely over the issue of slavery, with 11 southern states, where plantation masters owned slaves brought from Africa to work their fields, seceded from the United States in opposition to free northern states without slavery. The war ended with the defeat of the Confederate southern states and freedom for the slaves.

But the issues over civil rights for African-Americans resonated for a century into the 1950s and 1960s, when blacks were granted full voting rights and legally, racially segregated schools were outlawed, but often only after bloody street clashes.

To this day, questions of racial equality play an important role in American public life and its national political scene, all stemming from the history of the Civil War.

President Andrew Jackson, the 7th president on the U.S. is shown in an undated portrait.

President Andrew Jackson, the 7th president on the U.S. is shown in an undated portrait.

Trump made his Civil War comments as he compared his presidency to that of Andrew Jackson, a rough-hewn 19th century populist whose rise to power as the seventh U.S. president bears some resemblance to Trump’s unexpected ascendancy to the White House in his upset victory last year to become the 45th U.S. leader. But Trump, who earlier this year placed a wreath at Jackson’s grave site in the state of Tennessee and hung a picture of him in his office, seemed ill-informed about the timing of Jackson’s life.

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump claimed about the president who at his death owned 150 slaves. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said. ‘There’s no reason for this.’”

But Jackson, who was president from 1829 to 1837, died in 1845, 16 years before the Civil War erupted.

Trump, who over the weekend marked his first 100 days in office of his four-year term, has sat for a number of interviews in recent days to tout his accomplishments.

He has claimed that no president has accomplished more than he has in the first months in office, although Congress has yet to approve his bid to repeal the national health care reforms that were the signature legislative achievement of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and U.S. courts have blocked his efforts to curb immigration from majority-Muslim countries.

Trump won Senate approval for a new conservative justice on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, and has asserted new American military might overseas, launching missile attacks on Syria within days after a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria and dropping the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever on an Islamic State hideout in Afghanistan.

But Trump continues to face questions about his debunked claim that Obama wiretapped his Trump Tower headquarters in New York during the presidential campaign.

In an interview Monday with CBS News in the Oval Office of the White House, Trump was asked whether he still stood by the wiretapping claim, which U.S. national security officials and congressional investigators have said did not occur.

“I don’t stand by anything,” Trump said, then adding, “I just– you can take it the way you want. I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it. And frankly it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it’s a very big topic. And it’s a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the hell is going on.”

CBS journalist John Dickerson, then asked, “I just wanted to find out, though. You’re– you’re the president of the United States. You said (Obama) was ‘sick and bad’ because he had tapped you– I’m just—”

Trump responded, “You can take– any way. You can take it any way you want…. I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions.

Moments later, Trump abruptly ended the interview, saying, “Okay, it’s enough. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Is Smoking Weed While Pregnant Really That Bad?

Pregnant women know drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is never good for an unborn baby’s health. However, when it comes to marijuana, some expectant moms will admit it helps alleviate their morning sickness.

Now, researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute, Western University and Brescia University College in Canada have found smoking weed while pregnant can almost triple the odds of having an infant with low birth weight. The team found maternal amphetamine use, chronic hypertension, and maternal marijuana use were the top risk factors linked with low birth weight.

The researchers included live births between February 2009 and February 2014 in their analysis; those with a birthweight of less than 5.5 pounds were classified as low birth weight; while preterm birth was defined as a live birth before 37 weeks of gestation. A total of 15.6 percent of women reported smoking during pregnancy. Prenatal smoking was responsible for 6.4 percent of low birth weight and and 9.7 premature birth. The rates are comparable to those reported by the Canadian Institute for Health Information in 2010-11, which found 6.6 percent of infants in Canada had low birth weight, and 8.1 percent were preterm births.

“Low birth weight and preterm birth are serious public health problems. Both are associated with a higher risk of infant mortality,” said Dr. Jamie Seabrook, principal investigator, a Lawson associate scientist and professor at Brescia University College, in a statement.

Read More: Smoking Weed While Pregnant Linked To Low Birth Weight, Stays In Intensive Care

Currently, the World Health Organization estimates more than 1 in 10 babies are born preterm (before 37 weeks of gestation). Common causes of preterm birth include genetics, age, nutrition, prenatal care, and smoking. However, the new study, published in the Journal of Biosocial Science, has found marijuana use has a stronger effect than other factors, like socioeconomic status, on the adverse birth outcomes.

Seabrook and his colleagues’ main objective sought to determine whether socioeconomic status had an influence on birth outcomes. Previous research has confirmed infant mortality rates are highest among mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, a 2010 study found infants born in low socioeconomic areas had the worst infant mortality rates and the highest racial disparity, specifically in the city of Milwaukee among African American infants. These infants were at three times greater the risk than white infants for adverse birth outcomes.

Woman smoking Smoking weed throughout pregnancy can triple the odds of having an infant with low birth weight. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, Public Domain

The researchers believe the link between socioeconomic status and low birth weight was not seen because of universal healthcare in Canada compared to the lack thereof in the U.S.

“It’s possible that Canada’s universal health care system provides a larger safety net for these mothers and their children,” said Seabrook.

Read More: Women Who Use Cannabis Through Week 20 Of Gestation At Higher Risk Of Preterm Birth

Contrastingly, a study on pregnant mothers in Jamaica before and after pregnancy, found those who used marijuana to remedy their morning sickness did not have infants with low birth weight or compromised neurological development. In fact, these babies showed better social skills than the babies who were born to mothers that didn’t use marijuana.

However, improvements are not linked to marijuana itself. Rather, the researchers conclude it’s due to how the babies were raised. The researchers believe a mother’s lifestyle influenced the health of her baby. For example, mothers who used marijuana were also vendors of ganja, meaning they were home most of the time after birth, allowing them to be more attentive to their child’s needs.

There have been many studies that analyze the effects of marijuana on a developing fetus, but there’s still more research to be done. Studies tend to rely on the mother’s self-report on marijuana use, which can lead to under-reporting usage for personal reasons. Researchers need to devise better methods to measure maternal use of weed during pregnancy.

We do know smoking weed is a modifiable risk factor.

Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should understand the possible effects it can have on an unborn baby to reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes, like low birth weight or premature birth.

Source: Campbell EE, Gilliland J, Dworatzek PDN et al. Socioeconomic status and adverse birth outcomes: A population-based Canadian sample.” Journal of Biosocial Science. 2017.

See More:

Marijuana Use Before Pregnancy More Than Doubles the Risk of Premature Birth

Marijuana Use While Pregnant Could Hinder Growth Of Important Connections In The Baby’s Brain