Improving access to health care for minority women of childbearing age could improve pregnancy outcomes and reduce racial differences in infant mortality, according to an article in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Women’s Health website*.
Infant mortality rates for non-Hispanic blacks and other minorities are much higher than for non-Hispanic whites. Better preconception heath care for women is a promising strategy for reducing racial disparities in reproductive health outcomes. This may include reducing behavioral risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and excessive drinking. It could also involve greater access to preventive care and preconception and reproductive counseling.
The article “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Preconception Risk Factors and Preconception Care” by Clark Denny, PhD and colleagues, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, GA), estimated the prevalence of five risk factors for negative pregnancy outcomes in more than 54,600 women ages 18-44 years. They found that more than half of the women had at least one risk factor and nearly 20% of women had two or more risk factors.
An accompanying Editorial, “Forthcoming Changes in Healthcare Financing and Delivery Offer Opportunities for Reducing Racial Disparities in Risks to Reproductive Health” by Anne Dunlop, MD, MPH and Darcie Everett, MD, MPH, Emory University School of Medicine (Atlanta, GA), highlights changes in health care policy, financing, and delivery that will expand coverage, emphasize prevention, and improve access to preconception and reproductive health care for lower-income Americans.
“Clearly, there is a need for better preconception health care, particularly among high-risk groups, in order to improve pregnancy outcomes and reduce racial disparities,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women’s Health.