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Asian-white couples have distinct pregnancy risks

October 1, 2008 | 10:00 am

Newborn1 The risk of having problems in pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, preterm labor or low birth weight, differ among various ethnic groups, studies have shown. Now a study looking at interracial couples, Asian-white couples in particular, also shows a unique risk profile for such couples.

The study, by researchers at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford University School of Medicine, found that pregnant women who are part of an Asian-white couple have an increased risk of gestational diabetes (4% incidence) compared with couples in which both partners are white (1.6%). Gestational diabetes is a known risk factor for Asian-Asian couples: an incidence rate of 5.7%. That is thought to be linked to a genetic predisposition. But the new study found that interracial couples also had an increased risk no matter which partner is Asian.

Asian women whose partners are white are also more likely to have a Cesarean delivery (33%) compared with couples with a white mother and Asian father (23%). That is thought to be linked to body type. The pelvis of an Asian woman tends to be smaller than the average white woman's.

The research, published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, points to the need for more evaluation of health risks unique to interracial couples or people of mixed race. A wealth of information on how to achieve the best possible birth outcomes can be found on the website of the March of Dimes.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times 

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