Black babies are more often born preterm (premature or early) than white babies. These analyses were based on births reported on the 1997 and 1999 questionnaires: the mothers of 422 preterm babies were compared to the mothers of 4544 full term babies. Overall, the risk of preterm birth was not related to responses to 7 of 9 questions about experiences of racism, but risk was slightly higher for women who reported unfair treatment on the job and that people acted afraid of them at least once a week. Among women with 12 years or less education, there were increased risks of preterm birth for 4 of the questions about racism. These data are suggestive. It will be important to reassess the question of whether experiences of racism increase preterm birth based on births reported by BWHS participants on the questionnaires. link to online article

Heavy drinking is related to many illnesses, such as liver disease. Most BWHS participants drink alcohol moderately if at all. Among those who drink more heavily, the strongest predictor was having begun drinking at an early age and having drunk greater quantities at that time. Consumption of alcohol was also strongly related to smoking. link to online article

The 1997 BWHS questionnaire contained 9 questions about experiences of racism. In preliminary analyses, responses to most of the questions were unrelated to preterm birth overall. However, among women with lower levels of education, some of the variables were related to an increased risk.

These preliminary results suggest that parity has a dual effect on the occurrence of breast cancer, depending upon a woman’s age. Before 45 years of age, women who have had several children appear to have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who have had few children. At older ages, however, the incidence among women who have had several children is lower than among women with few children or none at all.

In preliminary results, the occurrence of uterine fibroids was greater among women who began to menstruate at a young age and among women who had their first child at an older age. Risk was reduced if a woman had a recent pregnancy. These results indicate that the occurrence of uterine fibroids is strongly influenced by reproductive factors.