African American women are more likely to experience preterm birth (<37 completed weeks gestation) compared with White women. African American women are also more likely to live in neighborhoods characterized as disadvantaged (i.e., exhibiting higher rates of vacant housing, poorer property conditions, and more litter and crime) and to experience racial discrimination compared with White women. These chronic stressors have been related to preterm birth (PTB) among African American women. This review focuses on potential stress-related pathways by which neighborhood disadvantage and racial discrimination increase the risk for PTB among African American women. Specifically, we propose cortisol, systemic inflammation, proteome and lipidome profiles, and telomere shortening as potential mediators linking these social determinants of health with PTB among African American women. Examination of these factors and the signaling pathways they contribute to will increase our knowledge of the effects of social determinants of health on PTB for African American women.
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