Weathering hypothesis

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The weathering hypothesis was first proposed by Arline Geronimus in 1992. It holds that African American women's health deteriorates in early adulthood as a result of their cumulative exposure to socioeconomic disadvantage.[1] Subsequent studies by her and others have found support for the hypothesis.[2][3][4] In recent years, the hypothesis has been examined with regard to phenomena such as allostatic load, epigenetics, and telomere shortening.[5]


While working part-time at a school for pregnant teenagers in Trenton, New Jersey, Geronimus first noticed that the teens who came to the school tended to have far more health problems than her classmates at Princeton University. She thus began to wonder whether the health conditions of the teens at that clinic may have been caused by their environment. While in graduate school, she proposed the "weathering hypothesis". She chose the term weathering as a metaphor for the effects she perceived that exposure to stress was having on the health of marginalized people.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geronimus, A. T. (1992). "The weathering hypothesis and the health of African-American women and infants: evidence and speculations". Ethnicity & Disease. 2 (3): 207–221. ISSN 1049-510X. PMID 1467758.
  2. ^ Geronimus, Arline T. (1996). "Black/white differences in the relationship of maternal age to birthweight: A population-based test of the weathering hypothesis". Social Science & Medicine. 42 (4): 589–597. doi:10.1016/0277-9536(95)00159-x. PMID 8643983.
  3. ^ Geronimus, Arline T.; Hicken, Margaret; Keene, Danya; Bound, John (2011-10-10). ""Weathering" and Age Patterns of Allostatic Load Scores Among Blacks and Whites in the United States". American Journal of Public Health. 96 (5): 826–833. CiteSeerX doi:10.2105/ajph.2004.060749. PMC 1470581. PMID 16380565.
  4. ^ Love, Catherine; David, Richard J.; Rankin, Kristin M.; Collins, James W. (2010-07-15). "Exploring Weathering: Effects of Lifelong Economic Environment and Maternal Age on Low Birth Weight, Small for Gestational Age, and Preterm Birth in African-American and White Women". American Journal of Epidemiology. 172 (2): 127–134. doi:10.1093/aje/kwq109. ISSN 0002-9262. PMID 20576757.
  5. ^ Geronimus, Arline T. (2013-09-10). "Deep Integration: Letting the Epigenome Out of the Bottle Without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health". American Journal of Public Health. 103 (S1): S56–S63. doi:10.2105/ajph.2013.301380. PMC 3786760. PMID 23927509.
  6. ^ Demby, Gene (2018-01-14). "Making The Case That Discrimination Is Bad For Your Health". NPR. Retrieved 2018-04-18.