Trauma, Violence, & Abuse; Josiah A. Sweeting, Adebisi A. Akinyemi, Ellen Alison Holman; published March, 4, 2022; DOI: 10.1177/15248380221074320.
This systematic review explores the empirical literature addressing the association between parental preconception adversity and offspring physical health in African-American families.
We conducted a literature search in PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Scopus through June 2021. Articles were included if they: reported data about at least two generations of African-American participants from the same family; measured parental preconception adversity at the individual level; measured at least one offspring physical health outcome; and examined associations between parental adversity and child health.
We identified 701 unique articles; thirty-eight articles representing 30 independent studies met inclusion criteria. Twenty-five studies (83%) reported that parental preconception adversity was associated with child health; six studies (20%) reported that parental preconception adversity was not associated with at least one offspring outcome; several studies reported both. Only six studies (20%) reported an association specific to African Americans.
Empirical evidence linking parental preconception adversity with offspring physical health in African Americans is limited and mixed. In the current literature, very few studies report evidence addressing intergenerational associations between parental preconception adversity and offspring physical health in the African-American population, specifically, and even fewer investigate forms of parental preconception adversity that have been shown to disproportionately affect African Americans (e.g., racism). To better understand root causes of racial health disparities, more rigorous systematic research is needed to address how intergenerational transmission of historical and ongoing race-based trauma may impact offspring health among African Americans.