Disparities in infant mortality: What's genetics got to do with it?

Richard David*, James Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Since 1950, dramatic advances in human genetics have occurred, racial disparities in infant mortality have widened, and the United States' international ranking in infant mortality has deteriorated. The quest for a "preterm birth gene" to explain racial differences is now under way. Scores of papers linking polymorphisms to preterm birth have appeared in the past few years. Is this strategy likely to reduce racial disparities? We reviewed broad epidemiological patterns that call this approach into question. Overall patterns of racial disparities in mortality and secular changes in rates of prematurity as well as birthweight patterns in infants of African immigrant populations contradict the genetic theory of race and point toward social mechanisms. We postulate that a causal link to class disparities in health exists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1197
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 7 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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