Help Us Understand the Link Between Stress and Preterm Birth

The Supporting Our Ladies and Reducing Stress to Prevent Preterm Birth (SOLARS) study is one of the first, large-scale studies, led by women of color and by women who have had a preterm birth, designed to help understand the impact of stress, anxiety, and racism - in addition to resilience and coping - on gestational duration and preterm birth in Black and Hispanic/Latina women. The data collected - including survey and biospecimen information, may help unlock new pathways, discoveries, and findings that may lead to effective interventions to increase gestational duration and decrease the risk for preterm birth in women of color.

Participate in SOLARS

How does SOLARS work?

SOLARS asks to be part of a woman's pregnancy journey by asking questions about a woman's past and present life circumstances. Women fill out surveys at 6 time points online or can opt to fill out the survey with the help of a SOLARS research team member. Women are also asked to provide small samples of saliva, blood, and urine at 6 time points via a home nurse visit or at a central location in Oakland. Each participant is compensated for their participation in the study (see participants page for further information on eligibility and requirements for participation).

How will women be compensated for participating in the SOLARS study?

Women who participate are compensated for the time it takes to contribute to the survey and biospecimen data. Women can earn up to $280 over the course of the study. Women earn $30 for completed survey and required biospecimen collection (blood, urine, and saliva) at each prenatal time period (up to a total of four time points from 11 to 32 weeks) and are compensated $40 for participating at each postnatal time point (at 5-6 weeks and at 6 months). In addition, women are compensated an additional $10 for contribution of any extra prenatal biospecimen (nasal or vaginal swab) and an additional $20 for contribution of postnatal biospecimens (maternal nasal or vaginal swab or breastmilk; baby urine or fecal sample).


Women are eligible for SOLARS if they are:

  • Are pregnant with only one baby (we are unable to enroll women carrying twins or other multiple pregnancies at this time)
  • Are 18 years-of-age or older
  • Self-identify as Black/African/African-American or Hispanic/Latina
  • Are English and/or Spanish speaking
  • Are less than 21 weeks gestation/pregnant based on an ultrasound
  • Live in Oakland OR work full-time in Oakland AND reside in Alameda County
  • Are willing to participate in the survey and minimum biospecimen collection (blood, urine & salivary swab) components of the study at all prenatal and postnatal time points (11 to 14 weeks of gestation (if identified prior or during this time point), 15 to 20, 24 to 26, and 30 to 32 weeks of gestation as well as 5 to 6 weeks and 6 months after delivery).

Three Questions with Laura Jelliffe-Pawlowski, Co-Principal Investigator of SOLARS

How did the SOLARS study come about?

We did a really large research prioritization project with women from the community to listen to what is important to them, what would be the best for them, what would they like us to be focusing on. We did the same thing with researchers, academics, clinicians and all groups working seperately identified stress as the number one thing that we needed to focus on. This was three and a half years ago, at the beginning of the UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative. So, we listened and it took us a while to say 'ok if we are going to do one of the biggest studies on stress and preterm birth that has ever been done in Black and Latina communities, how are we going to do that'. Designing the study and the measures really came from our intentional work with communities. 

What kind of impact do you think SOLARS is going to have?

There is something about really paying attention to the communities most at risk. Starting that partnership, listening to the community, inviting them to the table as partners. So we are accomplishing that now, so that is really profound. Hopefully, we will learn things in the long term that will lead to ways in which we can help support communities to reduce stress, and when we say stress, we mean reducing racism, trauma and the burden that places on a women's body and families. And then in the long-term, if we can reduce the rates of preterm birth, we can really decrease things like learning disabilities, heart disease, diabetes, all of the burdens that really come with preterm birth and hopefully lend a small voice to healthier communities. 

You've been intentional in building your SOLARS team and leadership. What does it mean for you to have a leadership and team that reflects the community? 

While I'm a White woman, I've also delivered preterm. So that is important, that each person has a history and a lived experience to bring to the study. But most importantly that we have other leaders on our team that are women of color, that have lived experience in terms of delivering preterm, and then we have a staff that also reflects the community and has more of an opportunity to push back on us if we aren't doing things in the best way that fit for the community. I think that is why we've been successful and will continue to be successful. 

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