African American mothers in south central Los Angeles : their fears for their newborn's future

by Mark A. Schuster, Neal Halfon, David L. Wood

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This study explores what African American mothers in a low-income community fear for the future of their newborns. An interview study was conducted with mothers of recently born infants randomly sampled from birth certificate records in the spring of 1994 in 10 postal codes in the Compton Health District in south central Los Angeles, California, with high concentrations of low-income African American children. Thirty-nine percent of the mothers reported a fear of gangs, violence, or both. The largest other response categories included disease, illness, and health problems (17%); drugs and alcohol (15%); growing up in the local environment (10%); and society and the world in general (6%). More than half the fears are in the medical and public health domains. Some involve traditional health concerns (e.g., disease), while others are problems that the health professions have been addressing more recently (e.g., violence).

Originally published in: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, v. 152, March 1998, pp. 264-268.

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