Our Grants

The Impact of Police Violence and Prolonged Sociopolitical Conflict on Birth Outcomes


Using vital statistics birth and fetal death data, this project aims to measure the community-level impact of the killing of Mike Brown Jr. by Ferguson, Missouri, police and the subsequent militarized police response to sociopolitical unrest, on birth and pregnancy outcomes, particularly for Black mothers.




The racialized trauma of police killings and the prolonged militarized response to protest can pose health risks to communities. Given the sensitivity of pregnancy to traumatic stress, this project aims to examine the community-level impact of police-related gun violence through changes in birth outcomes for mothers following the killing of Mike Brown, Jr.


Using live birth and fetal death records from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, this project will examine the additional change in absolute risk of preterm birth, low birthweight, and fetal death, among pregnancies conceived and/or delivered following the killing of Mike Brown, Jr. by Ferguson Police, and the subsequent militarized police presence in North St. Louis County (August 2014 – September 2015) compared to the year prior. The difference-in-difference between these time periods will be estimated using generalized linear models to distinguish between the effects of being in the St. Louis region broadly, the specific effects among Black mothers given the trauma of this racialized killing, and the spatial proximity to the sites of unrest given the ongoing stressors to this community.


The consequences of police violence and the state militarization of police in response to protest are likely far-reaching and intergenerational. This research should inform how policymakers measure the true impact of this form of structural violence, particularly for Black communities.

Published Research

  • Racism Lives Here: Leveraging Context and Place in the Conceptualization and Operationalization of Structural Racism in Health Research

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Investigator Bio

Brigette A. Davis is interested in the measurement of structural racism in epidemiologic research. She is a RWJF Health Policy Research Scholar, and member of the MORhE Lab led by Dr Rachel Hardeman. Brigette has worked as a data analyst and researcher in multiple sectors including as an epidemiologist in St. Louis County Department of Public Health. She holds an MPH from Yale School of Public Health and a BA in Biology from Swarthmore College.

Grant Amount
Award Type
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Brigette A. Davis, social epidemiology, Harvard. T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Expected Completion Date
June 2021
Year Awarded
Focus Areas
Officer-Involved Shootings