Redlining refers to the withholding of services from people who live in areas classified as “hazardous” to investment, financial and otherwise. Examples of this practice include denying credit, insurance, healthcare, and grocery stores to people in these areas, where disproportionate numbers of poor people and people of color live. Redlining has significant consequences for reproductive health and related care. In the 1930s and 40s, the federal government outlined geographical area descriptions for U.S. cities, wherein neighborhoods composed predominantly of people of color were labeled hazardous, marked in red.
In one study, researchers examined a region surrounding Rochester, New York, where they analyzed data on preterm births alongside demographic characteristics, including race, income, and educational attainment.They found that preterm births occurred at a rate of 12.38% in “hazardous” zip codes compared to 7.55% in areas that were labeled “best” or “still desirable.” Those who resided in “hazardous” areas were also at higher risk for other pregnancy problems, such as pregnancy-related hypertension, neonatal complications, and neonatal intensive care unit admission.