Sociocultural factors in puerperal infectious morbidity among navajo women

W. Thomas Boyce, Catherine Schaefer, H. Robert Harrison, William H.J. Haffner, Marguerite Lewis, Anne L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


From 1980 to 1982, a sample of 968 pregnant Navajo women in New Mexico was enrolled in a prospective study of biologic and sociocultural factors in puerperal infectious morbidity. Past studies have independently implicated both genital infection and psychosocial stressors in perinatal complications, but, to the authors' knowledge, no previous work has concurrently investigated the interactive effects of genital pathogens and psychosocial processes. Endocervical cultures for Mycoplasma hominis and Chiamydie trachomatis were obtained during prenatal visits, and structured interviews were conducted assessing social support and the degree of cultural traditionality, in this context a proxy measure of acculturative stress. The incidences of postpartum fever, endometritis, and premature rupture of membranes were significantly associated with the concur rence of two factors: the presence of genital tract M. hominis and a highly traditional cultural orientation. When demographic and conventional obstetric risk factors were controlled for, women with both M. hominis and high traditionality experienced infectious complications at a rate twice that of women with either factor alone. Among the plausible explanations for this result is the possibility that acculturative stress undermines physiologic resistance to infectious genital tract disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-615
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1989


  • Acculturation
  • Infection
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Stress, psychological

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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