December 2004

Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Women with Lupus

Cardiovascular disease is a major health concern for people with the autoimmune disease Lupus. The fall issue of the Lupus Foundation of America's national magazine, Lupus Now, discusses recent studies that confirm that women with Lupus have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than women in the general population.

One study found that 250 women with Lupus had higher levels of triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and homocysteine compared to 250 healthy women. These factors are associated with inflammation caused by Lupus and likely contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stress of Racism May Lead to Low Birthweight Babies

Researchers have long been puzzled about why African-American women are much more likely than whites to deliver premature and underweight babies.

Factors such as genetics, unequal prenatal care and poverty only partly explain why blacks are three times more likely to deliver very low birthweight babies (less than 3.3 pounds). For example, a substantial black-white gap persists even among mothers who have college degrees. Two studies published Monday in the American Journal of Public Health lend support to a new explanation: The psychological stress of experiencing racial discrimination is at least partly responsible for premature and low birthweight babies. Duke University researcher Sarah Mustillo and colleagues analyzed births in Chicago, Oakland, Minneapolis and Birmingham, Ala. Among black women, 50 percent of those with preterm deliveries and 61 percent with low birthweight babies had experienced discrimination in at least three situations. Among white women, the corresponding rates of racial discrimination were 5 percent and zero percent. In a second study, researchers asked 312 black women who delivered babies at Stroger and University of Chicago hospitals whether they had experienced discrimination looking for work, at work, at school, in public settings or while getting medical care. Those who had experienced discrimination in at least three settings were 2.6 times more likely to deliver very low birthweight babies.

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