Eliminating health disparities between different racial/ethnic subgroups is a national priority. Even at the earliest stages of pregnancy, disparities in health are evident.
A new study documents persistent disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy, prenatal care, and breastfeeding in California between women of different incomes, educational levels and racial/ethnic groups. While, overall, the state experienced an improvement in these maternal and infant health measures, the aggregate improvements masked persistent gaps between different groups of women.
A new issue brief prepared by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and the Kaiser Family Foundation, "Social and Economic Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health," analyzes changes in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in maternal and infant health in California in 1994/1995 and 1999/2001. This issue brief also reviews the policy implications of these differences and offers general recommendations for health care policymakers to consider in addressing health disparities. This issue brief can be found online at http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/7157.cfm.
A related article detailing the methods for other states interested in monitoring disparities will appear in the forthcoming December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.