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Keywords

pregnancy outcomes, women with disabilities, disability disparities

Abstract

In 2010 in the US, there were 4.7 million childbearing age (15-44 years) women with disabilities (WWD) defined as, being limited in any way in any activities because of physical, mental, or emotional problems. Although their proportion and pregnancy rates are growing, there is little empirical evidence about their health, healthcare needs, pregnancy experiences and outcomes. We examined differences and predictors of pregnancy outcomes for women with and without disabilities. We used 2009 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data from 15,585 Massachusetts and Rhode Island women. We conducted χ2- and t tests of pregnancy outcome differences for WWD and those without. Applying an economics’ health production framework, we conducted multivariate and partial correlation analysis to determine disability significance in predicting pregnancy outcomes. We found no significant differences in delivery types, the mother’s hospital stay or the likelihood of birth defects. However, relative to infants born to women without disabilities, those born to WWD had higher likelihoods of preterm birth, mortality, need for intensive care, low gestational age, and low birth weights. Health behavior, health capital stock and access to prenatal care were strong pregnancy outcome predictors, but disability was not. Therefore, having a disability is not a guarantee against positive pregnancy outcomes. Improved health behavior, health capital stock and access to prenatal care can improve pregnancy outcomes for WWD. A better understanding of interactions between disability and pregnancy, and between disability and other pregnancy outcome predictors could aid the identification of effective methods for improving outcomes for WWD.


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