Healthy Birth Outcomes: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities
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This page features selected research efforts that seek to understand and identify ways to eliminate
racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes.
American Medical Association offers resources on eliminating health disparities.
- "You Learn to Go Last": Perceptions of
Prenatal Care Experiences among African-American Women with Limited Incomes (November 2012). Authors: Trina C. Salm
Ward, Mary Mazul, Emmanuel M. Ngui, Farrin D. Bridgewater, Amy E. Harley.
Where health disparities begin: The role of social and economic determinants - and why current policies may make matters
worse (October 2011). Authors: Steven H. Woolf and Paula Braveman.
- Reducing low birthweight through home
visitation (February 2009). As part of a larger randomized control trial, this study examined the effects of home visitation
services on low birthweight (LBW) deliveries. The study found that the risk of delivering LBW babies was
significantly lower for participants in the group receiving prenatal home visits with a focus on social support,
health education, and better access to services, suggesting that this approach holds promise for reducing LBW
deliveries among at-risk women and adolescents.
Primary care interventions to promote breastfeeding: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation
statement (October 2008). There is convincing evidence that breastfeeding provides substantial health benefits for children, and
adequate evidence that breastfeeding provides moderate benefits for mothers. The promotion and support of breastfeeding
may be accomplished through interventions over the course of pregnancy, around the time of delivery, and after birth
while breastfeeding is under way. Interventions may include breastfeeding education for mothers and families, direct
support of mothers during breastfeeding observations, and the training of health professional staff about breastfeeding
and techniques for breastfeeding support. Evidence suggests that interventions including both prenatal and postnatal
components may be the most effective at increasing breastfeeding duration. Many successful programs include peer support,
prenatal breastfeeding education, or both.
of Prenatal Care Coordination on Birth Outcomes in Wisconsin (Slides;
PDF,162 KB). Julie A. Willems Van Dijk, August 13, 2008.
Advancing health disparities research within the health care system: A conceptual framework (December
2006). Authors: Amy M. Kilbourne, Galen Switzer, Kelly Hyman, Megan Crowley-Matoka, and Michael J. Fine.
Recommendations to improve preconception health and health care - United States (April 2006):
Improving one's health before
pregnancy is essential to improve birth outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined ten
recommendations for improving women's preconception health and thereby improve birth outcomes, including
emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility; increasing public awareness, risk assessment, education and
counseling on the importance of behaviors that affect preconception health; increasing interventions for women with
identified risks; providing interconception interventions for women with adverse outcomes; expanding health
insurance coverage; and increasing public health surveillance and research to monitor preconception health.
- Social sources of racial disparities in health
(May 2005). Authors: David R. Williams and Pamela Braboy Jackson.
- The Community Guide: Prevention of birth
defects (June 2004): Folate taken before pregnancy and in the first two months of gestation can help prevent major birth
defects of a baby's brain and spine. The Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommends community-wide
campaigns to increase the use of supplements containing folic acid by women of childbearing age and folic acid
fortification of food products.
- Racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes: A life-course perspective.
(Michael C. Lu and N. Halfon, Maternal Child Health Journal, Vol. 7, No.
1, pages 13-30, March 2003). Abstract
and information on accessing the full article.
Neonatal health care costs related to smoking during pregnancy - Abstract (January 2002). This study
confirms the adverse effects of
smoking. Among mothers who smoke, smoking adds over $700 per mother in neonatal costs. The smoking-attributable neonatal
costs in the U.S. represent almost $367 million in 1996 dollars; these costs vary from less than a million dollars in
smaller states to more than $23 million in New York. These costs are highly preventable since the adverse effects
of maternal smoking occur in the short run and can be avoided by even a temporary cessation of maternal smoking. These
cost estimates can be used by managed care plans, state and local public health officials, and others to evaluate
alternative smoking cessation programs.
April 15, 2014