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Maternal Differences and Birth Outcome Disparities: Diversity Within a High-Risk Prenatal Clinic



We examined the influence of race/ethnicity on appointment attendance, maternal psychiatric and medical diagnoses, and birth outcomes within a diverse, low income, high risk pregnant population to determine whether birth outcome disparities would be lessened in a sample with high biopsychosocial risk across all groups.


Data were retrospectively obtained on all women scheduled for appointments in the San Francisco Genera Hospital (SFGH) High-Risk Obstetrics (HROB) clinic during a three-month period. General linear model and logistic regression procedures were used to examine the associations of race/ethnicity with maternal characteristics, clinic attendance, and birth outcomes.


Our sample included 202 maternal-infant pairs (Hispanic 57%, Black 16%, Asian 15%, White 12%). Racial/ethnic differences were seen in language (p < .001), gravidity (p < .001), parity (p = .005), appointment attendance (p < .001), diabetes (p = .005), psychiatric diagnosis (p = .02), illicit drug use (p < .001), smoking (p < .001). These maternal characteristics, including rate of attendance at specialized prenatal appointments, did not predict birth outcomes with the exception of an association between diabetes and earlier gestational age (p = .03). In contrast, Black maternal race/ethnicity was associated with earlier gestational age at birth (p = .004) and lower birth weight (p < .001) compared to Whites.


Within a diverse maternal population of high biopsychosocial risk, racial/ethnic disparities in birth outcomes persist. These disparities have implications for infant health trajectory throughout the lifecourse and for intervention implementation in high risk groups.

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