Data reveals police violence is a major obstacle in Black women’s health
Alarming data points towards premature deliveries, heightened stress, and cardiovascular disease among Black women as a result of police brutality.

Recent studies have shown an increase of physical and mental health concerns among Black women subject to police brutality in the United States. Scientists have compiled a database of complaints that individuals have filed against the Chicago police, who have engaged in forceful and illegitimate misconduct. 

Trends demonstrate that Black women are prone to excessive violence compared to white women. Black women have an exposure rate of 27.6 per cent versus white women who reveal a rate of 13.9 per cent. 

In neighbourhoods such as Chicago, Black women experience excessive force from police authorities and have a 19 per cent chance in suffering from preterm delivery, 16 per cent at risk of delivering a SGA infant, and 42 per cent at risk of obtaining cardiovascular disease.

When it comes to pregnancy, scientists have pointed out that Black women suffer from preterm deliveries twice as much as white women. Specifically, 14.3 per cent of Black women deliver preterm, compared to 6.8 per cent of white women. 

Due to the crippling stress evoked from police brutality and resulting mental health issues, Black women are more prone to delivering infants that are smaller in size, referred to as small gestational age (SGA). This results in babies being limited in their oxygen supply to vital organs, causing issues regarding normal body temperature and possibly death.

According to these studies, infants who experience SGA are susceptible to facing cognitive impairment and mental illnesses during their childhood. These implications can further put additional stress on parents, as finding resources to take care of their children’s health concerns pile on top of their own.

Author and postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern Dr. Alexa Freedman has noted that Black women are more likely to face cardiovascular disease, contributing to insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, and excessive fatigue. 

These trends are alarming and prompt an urge to reform police systems. Lowering police brutality will subsequently lower stress levels among members of the Black community. This will also contribute to lesser cases of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

More specifically, a Northwestern University study investigated trends measuring stress levels from police brutality and its effect on high levels of preterm delivery among Black women. 

This study was conducted to assess the mental effects of stress and its impact on delivering a child. As Black women face violence, this causes them to feel fear and stress, leading to poor maternal health following a pregnancy with additional and avoidable complications.

In a different study of 67,976 pregnant patients and 6,773 healthy adults, results demonstrated that police violence hindered the growth of babies during their earliest stages of development. This brings negative repercussions later in life, coupled with higher medical bills and health expenses. 

Overall, Black women have been targets of police brutality, and their struggle highlights the need for greater reform to reduce violence against racialized minorities.

Staff Writer (Volume 48) — Anjalli graduated with a Specialization in Political Science and a minor in English. Through her contributions at The Medium, she aims to educate readers on the unique complexities of life and how we strive to overcome challenges collectively through policies and voice. In her free time she enjoys reading the latest news, meditating by her Saje diffuser, or looking at Pinterest for fashion inspiration. If you ask Anjalli what her favourite food is, she’d reply “a green dragon sushi roll!”


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