An article published in the Washington Post on Friday floated the theory that Donald Trump’s presidency “may be making Latinos sick.”
Reporters William Wan and Lindsey Bever cited “a growing number of studies” and spoke with medical experts in an article that proclaims “the evidence is growing for a possible ‘Trump effect’ on the health of Hispanics.”
Specifically, Wan and Bever point to a study published Friday in the American Medical Associaton’s JAMA Network Open.
The study found that “the number of preterm births among Latina women increased above expected levels after the election,” which led researchers to suggest that the “2016 presidential election may have been associated with adverse health outcomes of Latina women and their newborns.”
In the time period between 2009 to 2017, researchers found that there were 3 percent more preterm births than expected among Latina women in the nine months following Trump’s election victory.
According to Wan and Bever, public health experts have “focused on” the effect of Trump’s presidency on marginalized communities.
“Some of the research has been inconclusive, but the evidence is growing for a possible ‘Trump effect’ on the health of Hispanics,” they wrote. “And Trump’s intensifying rhetoric, such as telling minority members of Congress to “go back” to countries they came from, has given the scientists’ work more urgency.”
One expert, Luis H. Zayas, professor of social work and psychiatry at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Post that ““It’s not hard to imagine why there would be increased stress the past few years: the fear of raids, the deportation threats, the tweets every morning, the separation of children from parents.”
“It’s still early, but we’ve seen enough papers at this point that suggest it’s having real life consequences on health,” Zayas added.
Wan and Bever also referenced an April Gallup poll, which found that Americans’ “stress, worry and anger intensified in 2018.”
In the eleventh paragraph of their piece, Wan and Bever mention that the study’s authors concede “their findings show the premature birth increase occurred after Trump’s election, but do not prove it was caused by the election or the anti-immigration policies proposed and enforced shortly afterward.”
But other experts cited by the Post suggested that if anything the new study “may be underestimating the effect of Trump.”
Nancy Krieger, a Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist who published a similar study in 2018, told the Post that “There’s a price being paid for all the hateful rhetoric we’re hearing now.”
“It’s not a game or just words. The words are meant to induce fear and fear carries a physical toll in our bodies,” she said.
Many commenters, reacting to a link to Wan and Bever’s story posted by the Post’s Twitter account, were skeptical of the report.
— rebel millennial (@patriotic_giant) July 19, 2019
“Wow, headlines like this is why Trump will win in 2020,” wrote one commenter.
“Your paper is sick. And dying,” quipped another.
What about Trump derangement syndrome?
It’s not the first time experts have ascribed a negative health outcome to the effects of Trump’s presidency.
Last year, therapists indicated a rise in what they unofficially diagnosed as “Trump Anxiety Disorder.” In a 2017 essay, clinical psychologist Jennifer Panning – who is credited with originally coining the term – described the symptoms of “Trump Anxiety disorder” as worrying about the state of the country, feeling helpless and out of control, and spending too much time on social media.
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