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Perinatal disparities for black mothers and their newborns

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Paul, I., E.B. Lehmann, A.K. Suliman, and Marianne M. Hillemeier. 2008. "Perinatal disparities for black mothers and their newborns." Maternal and Child Health Journal, 12(4): 452-460.

OBJECTIVES: In the United States, significant ethnic and racial health and healthcare disparities exist among our most vulnerable populations, new mothers and newborns. We sought to determine disparities in socioeconomic status, perinatal health, and perinatal healthcare for black mothers and their newborns cared for in well-baby nurseries compared with white mother/baby pairs in Pennsylvania.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of a merged data set containing birth and clinical discharge records was conducted. Perinatal data from 44,105 black mothers and their singleton newborns, > or = 35 weeks gestational age cared for in Pennsylvania well-baby nurseries from 1998-2002 were compared with 88,210 white mother/baby pairs.

RESULTS: Black mothers were younger and were much more likely to receive Medicaid or be uninsured compared with white mothers. They were less likely to be college-educated, married, or have prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. Infants born to black mothers were less likely to be delivered via Cesarean section, but were more likely to be born between 35 and 38 weeks gestation and be of low birth weight.

CONCLUSIONS: Numerous significant disparities exist for black mothers and their newborns cared for in well-baby nurseries in Pennsylvania. Since most newborns are cared for in this setting as opposed to intensive care environments, recognition of the differences that exist for this group when compared to well newborns of white mothers can help to improve healthcare and its delivery to this population. Federal and local initiatives must continue efforts to eliminate racial disparities.

DOI:10.1007/s10995-007-0280-6 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States.

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