Dr. Jamie Seabrook, Associate Professor, Food and Nutritional Sciences and Recipient of the Brescia Award for Excellence in Research, presents:
Social Determinants of Birth Outcomes: Are We Victims of Circumstance?
Many health disparities in adulthood (e.g., coronary heart disease, hypertension) are linked to early life exposures. According to theory of fundamental social causes, socioeconomic status shapes exposure to individually-based risk factors. During pregnancy, for example, women of lower socioeconomic status tend to experience more kinds and greater exposures to stress, and usually engage in more risky health behaviors (e.g., substance use) than women of higher socioeconomic status, which increases the likelihood of adverse birth outcomes. Unfortunately, Canadian public discourse continues to focus its attention on lifestyle behaviour modification during pregnancy, which puts the blame on mothers by treating them as causal agents in the reproduction of adult disease. Rather than focusing primarily on lifestyle approaches as solutions to improving health, my research examines the broader social structure operating in women’s lives during pregnancy.