The CCHN was developed to examine how community, family and individual level stressors can influence and interact with biological factors, and how altered biological factors might affect health during the perinatal period. The overriding hypothesis of this study is that cumulative stressors will have a strong biological effect, and result in poor birth outcomes.
Thus, with appropriate interventions perinatal outcomes could be improved and health disparities reduced. CCHN is the only community-based participatory research effort in the field of perinatal medicine.
The study's pilot included 100 women in five cities across the United States and set the foundation for the full study.
"By doing a pilot, we realized each community had local aspects that needed to be taken care of," said Dr. Tonse N. K. Raju, program sientist and medical officer, "that's why the community partnerships are very important."
The study will include approximately 2400 majority minority African American, Latina, and Caucasian women from five regions of the United States. Women with a history of high-risk pregnancy will be evaluated after they have given birth and before their next pregnancy, which is known as the inter-pregnancy interval. Chronic exposure to stressors (allostatic load), in each patient will be determined to learn whether the stressors influence biology, and perinatal outcomes.
The study further seeks to evaluate the potential role life stressors in the health disparity between infant mortality among African Americans and other groups. The study will also seek to determine whether the exposure to stressors is related to the high proportion of poor health status among African American and Hispanic infants. Study findings are expected to contribute to an understanding of the reasons for health disparities and provide evidence-based support for developing intervention strategies.
Five centers are funded for this community-linked research collaboration network for maternal and child health research. The funded centers will continue the community–linked collaboration and carryout a multi-site, multi-level study to examine how community, family, and individual level influences interact with biological influences and result in health disparities in pregnancy outcomes and infant and early childhood mortality and morbidity. The research will blend social, behavioral, and biomedical approaches into a coherent community-linked study.