There are substantial, unexplained racial disparities in women’s health. Some of the most pronounced involve elevated rates of preterm delivery (PTD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Black women. We hypothesized that stress associated with excessive use of force by police may contribute to these disparities. In two prospective cohorts derived from electronic health records (pregnancy cohort, N= 67,976; CVD cohort, N= 6773), we linked formal complaints of excessive police force in patients’ neighborhoods with health outcomes. Exposed Black women were 1.19 times as likely to experience PTD [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04 to 1.35] and 1.42 times as likely to develop CVD (95% CI: 1.12 to 1.79), even after adjustment for neighborhood disadvantage and homicide. The excess risks of PTD were also observed in maternal fixed-effects analyses comparing births to the same woman. These findings suggest police violence may be an unrecognized contributor to health inequity for Black women.
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