Association of Residence in High-Police Contact Neighborhoods with Preterm Birth among Black and White Individuals in Minneapolis

Rachel R. Hardeman, Tongtan Chantarat, Morrison Luke Smith, J'Mag Karbeah, David C Van Riper, Dara D. Mendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Importance: Police contact may have negative psychological effects on pregnant people, and psychological stress has been linked to preterm birth (ie, birth at <37 weeks' gestation). Existing knowledge of racial disparities in policing patterns and their associations with health suggest redesigning public safety policies could contribute to racial health equity.

Objective: To examine the association between community-level police contact and the risk of preterm birth among White pregnant people, US-born Black pregnant people, and Black pregnant people who were born outside the US.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study used medical record data of 745 White individuals, 121 US-born Black individuals, and 193 Black individuals born outside the US who were Minneapolis residents and gave birth to a live singleton at a large health system between January 1 and December 31, 2016. Data were analyzed from March 2019 to October 2020.

Exposures: Police contact was measured at the level of the census tract where the pregnant people lived. Police incidents per capita (ie, the number of police incidents divided by the census tract population estimate) were dichotomized into high if the value was in the fourth quartile and low for the remaining three quartiles.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Preterm birth status was based on the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) code. Preterm infants were those with ICD-10-CM codes P07.2 and P07.3 documented in their charts.

Results: Of 1059 pregnant people (745 [70.3%] White, 121 [11.4%] US-born Black, 193 [18.2%] Black born outside the US) in the sample, 336 White individuals (45.1%) and 62 Black individuals who were born outside the US (32.1%) gave birth between the ages of 30 and 34 years, while US-born Black individuals gave birth at younger ages, with 49 (40.5%) aged 25 years or younger. The incidence of preterm birth was 6.7% for White individuals (50 pregnant people), 14.0% for US-born Black individuals (17 pregnant people), and 5.7% for Black individuals born outside the US (11 pregnant people). In areas with high police contact vs low police contact, the odds of preterm birth were 90% higher for White individuals (odds ratio [OR], 1.9; 95% CI, 1.9-2.0), 100% higher for US-born Black individuals (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.8-2.2), and 10% higher for Black individuals born outside the US (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.0-1.2). Secondary geospatial analysis further revealed that the proportion of Black residents in Minneapolis census tracts was correlated with the number of police incidents reported between 2012 and 2016 (P = .001).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, police contact was associated with preterm birth for both Black and White pregnant people. Predominantly Black neighborhoods had greater police contact than predominantly White neighborhoods, indicating that Black pregnant people were more likely to be exposed to police than White pregnant people. These findings suggest that racialized police patterns borne from a history of racism in the United States may contribute to racial disparity in preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2130290
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 8 2021

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