Structural Racism, Disparities, and Perinatal Health


To investigate the effects of structural racism across multiple systems on racial and ethnic disparities in adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.

Primary Metrics of Structural Racism

Criminal JusticeMass Incarceration

  • Jail Incarceration Disparity Ratio

  • Prison Incarceration Disparity Ratio Violent Crime Arrest

  • Violent Crime Disparity Ratio
Environmental PollutionPollution Burden Index

  • Composite Index capturing exposures to pollution sources
Racialized Economic SegregationIndex of Concentration at the Extremes for Income + Race/Ethnicity

  • The difference between the numbers of non-Hispanic white individuals in highest income bracket and the number of persons of color in the lowest income bracket, divided by the total population size
Housing DiscriminationMortgage Lending Bias Index

  • The odds of a home mortgage application being denied for the persons of color compared with non-Hispanic white Individuals
Food DesertsLow-income, Low Access to Healthy Food

  • Indicator for census tracts where a significant number (at least 500 people) or share (at least 33 percent) of the population is greater than one-half mile from the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store
A silhouette of a pregnant woman standing in front of a window

Specific Aims

  1. Evaluate the individual impacts of key domains of structural racism on racial/ethnic disparities in major maternal and infant health outcomes, including:
  2. Evaluate the cumulative, combined effects of exposure to structural racism across multiple domains on exacerbating racial/ethnic perinatal health disparities.
  3. Apply machine learning methods to identify the key drivers of adverse maternal and infant outcomes separately among Black, Hispanic and White women in Houston.


Funded by National Institute of Health

Grant # – R01123456


Texas Southern University

Howard Henderson, Ph.D.

Professor & Director

Jennier Wyatt Bourgeois, Ph.D.

Jennifer Wyatt Bourgeois, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Baylor College of Medicine

Kristina Whitworth, PhD

Associate Professor

Elaine Symanski, PhD


Cristian Coarfa, PhD

Associate Professor


Hector Mendez-Figueroa, MD

Associate Professor

Wenyaw Chan, PhD