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Father's Race Can Affect the Risk of Preterm Birth

Infants with black fathers more likely to be born prematurely

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Infants with black fathers are at greater risk of being born prematurely than those with white fathers, regardless of the mother's ethnicity, according to research published in the August issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Emily DeFranco, D.O., of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed data from 527,845 birth records from 1989 to 1997, and analyzed birth outcomes according to four mother/father combinations by race: white mother/white father; white mother/black father; black mother/white father; and black mother/black father.

Infants with at least one black parent were more likely to be born before 35 weeks' gestation than infants with white parents. Compared to the offspring of white men, infants with black fathers and white mothers were 1.28 times as likely to be born prematurely. Those with two black parents were 2.28 times as likely to be preterm. In extreme preterm births (less than 28 weeks' gestation), the odds of preterm birth were even higher for infants with a black parent.

"Our study is unique in that we have demonstrated that paternal black race also increases the risks of extreme preterm birth (less than 28 weeks) and spontaneous preterm birth, which are outcomes even more likely to be influenced by heritable factors," the authors conclude.

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