Prenatal care for undocumented immigrant mothers leads to improved healthcare for their children

Prenatal care infographicA study led by Jonas Swartz, M.D., in the OHSU School of Medicine found that expanding preventive care in pregnancy for unauthorized immigrant women reduced infant deaths, increased participation in screenings, vaccines. Swartz and senior author Maria Rodriguez, M.D., M.P.H., published the findings in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Unauthorized immigrant women with access to care received 7.2 more prenatal visits, or nearly the nine to 12 visits recommended for a typical pregnancy. They also were 74 percent more likely to get a fetal ultrasound, 61 percent more likely to get diabetes screening and 19 percent more likely to receive the Tdap vaccine, which protects newborns against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.

The analysis found that making prenatal care available reduced the likelihood that these women had an extremely low birth weight infant by 1.33 per 1,000 births. It also reduced infant mortality by 1.01 per 1,000 births – a reduction that by comparison was larger than the 30-year decline in infant mortality from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, that was attributed to the “Back to Sleep” campaign.

Read OHSU News for more about Swartz and Rodriguez’s research.

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Casey Williamson has been writing about research at OHSU since September 2016.

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