Zaneta Thayer

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Dartmouth College

Grant number

Gr. 9687

Approve Date

October 4, 2018

Project Title

Thayer, Dr. Zaneta M., Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH - To aid research and writing on 'Intergenerational Impacts Of Racial Discrimination In Aotearoa/New Zealand' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

ZANETA M. THAYER, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2018 to aid research and writing on ‘Intergenerational Impacts of Racial Discrimination in Aotearoa/New Zealand.’ How does an individual’s social environment and lifetime experience of stress, including racism, affect their health? Can these effects be inherited across generations? These questions were addressed through a series of articles that fall into three threads of scholarship. First, several review and original theoretical arguments were produced that described why and how fetal development is sensitive to maternal environmental experience of stress. Second, two primary research articles utilizing data from a birth cohort in New Zealand were written that addressed specifically how one particular type of stressor — racial discrimination — can impact the health of offspring. It was found that among indigenous M_ori women the experience of racial discrimination was associated with giving birth to children earlier and with lower birth weight when compared to M_ori women who did not experience discrimination. These same women’s children also had shorter telomere length at four years of age, indicating accelerated biological aging. Finally, during the writing fellowship the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. In response a research project was developed and publications were generated that addressed how the pandemic had affected U.S.-based women’s experience of prenatal care, stress, and mental health. Subsequent work will investigate the impacts of COVID-19-associated maternal stress on offspring health.