Article

Racism and Child Health: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions

Department of Pediatrics and Anthropology, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, 282 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 06106, USA.
Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP (Impact Factor: 2.13). 07/2009; 30(3):255-63. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181a7ed5a
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Racism is a mechanism through which racial/ethnic disparities occur in child health. To assess the present state of research into the effects of racism on child health, a review of the literature was undertaken.
A MEDLINE review of the literature was conducted between October and November 2007. Studies reporting on empirical research relating to racism or racial discrimination as a predictor or contributor to a child health outcome were included in this review. The definition of "child health" was broad and included behavioral, mental, and physical health.
Forty articles describing empirical research on racism and child health were found. Most studies (65%) reported on research performed on behavioral and mental health outcomes. Other areas studied included birth outcomes, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and satisfaction with care. Most research has been conducted on African-American samples (70%), on adolescents and on older children, and without a uniformly standardized approach to measuring racism. Furthermore, many studies used measures that were created for adult populations.
There are a limited number of studies evaluating the relationship between racism and child health. Most studies, to date, show relationships between perceived racism and behavioral and mental health. Future studies need to include more ethnically diverse minority groups and needs to consider studying the effects of racism in younger children. Instruments need to be developed that measure perceptions of racism in children and youth that take into account the unique contexts and developmental levels of children, as well as differences in the perception of racism in different ethnocultural groups. Furthermore, studies incorporating racism as a specific psychosocial stressor that can potentially have biophysiologic sequelae need to be conducted to understand the processes and mechanisms through which racism may contribute to child health disparities.

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    • "Individually, neighborhood or community-level childhood stressors such as peer victimization, neighborhood violence, urban crowding and noise, and perceived racism have been associated with child and adolescent health issues, though results are somewhat mixed (Finkelhor, Ormrod, & Turner, 2007; Pachter & Coll, 2009). For example, one study documented that racial discrimination led to insulin resistance among African American girls but not boys (Chambers et al., 2004). "
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    • "While such reviews exist among adults (Paradies, 2006b; Pascoe & Smart Richman, 2009; Williams & Mohammed, 2009) the applicability of the findings of these reviews to the unique developmental needs and contexts of children and young people requires further examination. One nonsystematic review published in 2009 identified 40 articles on racism and child health, 70% of which considered African American populations (Pachter & Garcia Coll, 2009). However, as demonstrated below, this review included only a little over half of the studies published at that time. "
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