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1.  Healthy Start: Description of a Safety Net for Perinatal Support during Disaster Recovery 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(4):819-827.
Publicly funded programs and safety net organizations have key roles during post disaster recovery to care for vulnerable populations, including pregnant women with low resources. The objective of this study was to compare the health of prenatal women who accessed the New Orleans Healthy Start program to those women who only used traditional prenatal care (PNC) during long-term recovery from the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
During 2010-2012, this descriptive, cross-sectional study recruited 402 prenatal women (24-40 weeks) from prenatal clinics and classes. All women were enrolled in PNC, with 282 experiencing only traditional PNC, while 120 women added Healthy Start participation to their usual PNC. Measures were obtained to determine, past hurricane experience, hurricane recovery, perceptions of prenatal care, mental health, and birth outcomes.
Women accessing Healthy Start-New Orleans were more socially “at risk” (younger, lower income, not living with a partner, African American), lived through more hurricane trauma, and had a higher incidence of depression (40%) and PTSD (15%) than women in traditional PNC (29% depression; 6.1 % PTSD). Women using Healthy Start reported more mental health counseling and prenatal education than did women in only traditional PNC. Birth outcomes were similar in the two groups.
The Healthy Start participants with less resources and more mental health difficulties after disaster, represented a more vulnerable population in need of additional support. This study underscores the necessity for community and governmental programs to develop disaster response plans that address needs of vulnerable populations during prolonged recovery.
PMCID: PMC4303559  PMID: 25047787
2.  Preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy and promoting postpartum weight loss: A pilot lifestyle intervention for overweight and obese African American women 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(4):840-849.
To test the feasibility and acceptability of a theory-based lifestyle intervention designed to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy and promote weight loss in the early postpartum period in overweight and obese African American women.
Sixteen pregnant women (≤18 weeks gestation) were recruited from prenatal clinics in Columbia, South Carolina in 2011 and assigned to a lifestyle intervention program. The intervention, guided by formative research, consisted of an individual counseling session followed by 8 group sessions alternated with telephone counseling contacts that continued through 36 weeks of gestation. At 6–8 weeks postpartum, participants received a home visit and up to three counseling calls through week 12. Medical charts were reviewed for 38 contemporary controls who met the same inclusion criteria and attended the same prenatal clinics.
Compared to controls, study participants gained less total weight, had a smaller weekly rate of weight gain across the 2nd and 3rd trimesters (0.89 vs. 0.96 lbs), and were less likely to exceed weight gain recommendations (56.3 vs. 65.8%). At 12 weeks postpartum, study participants retained 2.6 lbs from their prepregnancy weight, half of study participants were at their prepregnancy weight or lower, and only 35% retained ≥5 lbs. The intervention also demonstrated success in promoting physical activity and reducing caloric intake, and was well-received by participants.
The initial results were promising. The lessons learned can help inform future studies. The efficacy of our intervention will be tested in a large randomized controlled trial.
PMCID: PMC4305038  PMID: 25051907
Gestational weight gain; lifestyle intervention; pregnancy; obesity prevention and management; feasibility study
3.  Developmental Trajectories of Postpartum Weight 3 Years After Birth: Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(4):917-925.
This study explored the developmental trajectories of postpartum weight from 0.5 to 3 years after childbirth, and aimed to determine the associations between postpartum weight trajectories and pre-pregnancy body mass index and adequacy of gestational weight gain (GWG). Data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study were used, following 49,528 mothers 0.5, 1.5, and 3 years after childbirth. Analyses were performed using latent growth mixture modeling. Three groups of developmental trajectories of postpartum weight were found, with most women (85.9 %) having a low level of weight retention initially and slight gain over 3 years, whereas 5.6 % of women started at a high postpartum weight retention (on average 7.56 kg) at 0.5 years but followed by a marked weight loss over time (2.63 kg per year on average), and the third trajectory represented women (8.5 %) who had high weight retention high initially (on average 4.67 kg at 0.5 years) and increasing weight over time (1.43 kg per year on average). Pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity and excessive GWG significantly predicted a high postpartum weight trend. Women had substantial variability in postpartum weight development—both initially after birth and in their weight trajectories over time. Early preventive interventions may be designed to assist women with pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity and excessive GWG, which helps to reduce the increasing trend for postpartum weight.
PMCID: PMC4482124  PMID: 25081240
Postpartum weight; MoBa; Developmental trajectory; Prepregnancy BMI; Gestational weight gain
4.  Prevalence and Characteristics of Women at Risk for an Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancy (AEP) in the United States: Estimates from the National Survey of Family Growth 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(4):776-782.
Non-pregnant women can avoid alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEPs) by modifying drinking and/or contraceptive practices. The purpose of this study was to estimate the number and characteristics of women in the United States who are at risk of AEPs. We analyzed data from in-person interviews obtained from a national probability sample (i.e., the National Survey of Family Growth) of reproductive-aged women conducted from January 2002 to March 2003. To be at risk of AEP, a woman had to have met the following criteria in the last month: (1) was drinking; (2) had vaginal intercourse with a man; and (3) did not use contraception. During a 1-month period, nearly 2 million U.S. women were at risk of an AEP (95 % confidence interval 1,760,079–2,288,104), including more than 600,000 who were binge drinking. Thus, 3.4 %, or 1 in 30, of all non-pregnant women were at risk of an AEP. Most demographic and behavioral characteristics were not clearly associated with AEP risk. However, pregnancy intention was strongly associated with AEP risk (prevalence ratio = 12.0, P < 0.001) because women often continued to drink even after they stopped using contraception. Nearly 2 million U.S. women are at AEP risk and therefore at risk of having children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. For pregnant women and women intending a pregnancy, there is an urgent need for wider implementation of prevention programs and policy approaches that can reduce the risk for this serious public health problem.
PMCID: PMC4494731  PMID: 24996954
Pregnancy; Alcohol-induced disorders; Fetal alcohol syndrome
5.  Does Preconception Health Differ by Nativity?: Findings from the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) Study 
Maternal and child health journal  2016;20(4):769-777.
To compare certain preconception health (PCH) behaviors and conditions among US-born (USB) and foreign-born (FB) mothers in Los Angeles County (LAC), regardless of race/ethnicity, and to determine if any identified differences vary among Asian/Pacific Islanders (API’s) and Hispanics.
Data are from the 2012 Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) study (n=6,252). PCH behaviors included tobacco use, multivitamin use, unintended pregnancy, and contraception use. PCH conditions comprised being overweight/obese, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, gum disease, and anemia. The relationship between nativity and each PCH behavior/ condition was assessed using multivariable logistic regression models.
USB women were more likely than FB women to smoke (AOR=2.12, 95% CI=1.49–3.00), be overweight/obese (AOR=1.57, 95% CI=1.30–1.90), and have asthma (AOR=2.04, 95% CI=1.35–3.09) prior to pregnancy. They were less likely than FB women to use contraception before pregnancy (AOR=0.59, 95% CI=0.49–0.72). USB Hispanics and API’s were more likely than their FB counterparts to be overweight/obese (AOR=1.57, 95% CI=1.23–2.01 and AOR=2.37, 95% CI=1.58–3.56, respectively) and less likely to use contraception (AOR=0.58, 95% CI=0.45–0.74 and AOR= 0.46, 95% CI=0.30–0.71, respectively). USB Hispanic mothers were more likely than their FB counterparts to smoke (AOR=2.47, 95% CI=1.46–4.17), not take multivitamins (AOR=1.30, 95% CI=1.02–1.66), and have asthma (AOR=2.35, 95% CI=1.32–4.21) before pregnancy.
US nativity is linked to negative PCH among LAC women, with many of these associations persisting among Hispanics and API’s. As PCH profoundly impacts maternal and child health across the lifecourse, culturally-appropriate interventions that maintain positive behaviors among FB reproductive-aged women and encourage positive behaviors among USB women should be pursued.
PMCID: PMC4794372  PMID: 26728899
Preconception health; nativity; maternal; child health
6.  Leadership in Adolescent Health: Developing the Next Generation of Maternal Child Health Leaders Through Mentorship 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(2):308-313.
Leadership development is a core value of Maternal Child Health Bureau training programs. Mentorship, an MCH Leadership Competency, has been shown to positively affect career advancement and research productivity. Improving mentorship opportunities for junior faculty and trainees may increase pursuit of careers in areas such as adolescent health research and facilitate the development of new leaders in the field. Using a framework of Developmental Networks, a group of MCH Leadership Education in Adolescent Health training program faculty developed a pilot mentoring program offered at the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine Annual Meeting (2011–2013). The program matched ten interdisciplinary adolescent health fellows and junior faculty with senior mentors at other institutions with expertise in the mentee's content area of study in 2011. Participants were surveyed over 2 years. Respondents indicated they were “very satisfied” with their mentor match, and all agreed or strongly agreed that the mentoring process in the session was helpful, and that the mentoring relationships resulted in several ongoing collaborations and expanded their Developmental Networks. These results demonstrate that MCH programs can apply innovative strategies to disseminate the MCH Leadership Competencies to groups beyond MCH-funded training programs through programs at scientific meetings. Such innovations may enhance the structure of mentoring, further the development of new leaders in the field, and expand developmental networks to provide support for MCH professionals transitioning to leadership roles.
PMCID: PMC4797986  PMID: 25376658
Mentorship; Developmental networks; Adolescent health; Leadership
7.  Prevalence and rates of intimate partner violence among South African women during pregnancy and the postpartum period 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):487-495.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health problem in South Africa. However, limited research exists on IPV during pregnancy and the postpartum period in South Africa. The purpose of this study is to describe the prevalence, rates and correlates of IPV among South African women during pregnancy and the first nine months postpartum.
Data are from a longitudinal study with women recruited during pregnancy between 2008 and 2010 at a public clinic in Durban. We used a modified version of the World Health Organization’s IPV scale to estimate prevalence and rates of IPV during pregnancy, at four months postpartum and nine months postpartum and we used logistic regression to assess the correlates of IPV during this time.
More than 20% of all women experienced at least one act of physical, psychological or sexual IPV during pregnancy. Nearly one-quarter of all women experienced at least one act of physical, psychological or sexual IPV during the first nine months postpartum. Psychological IPV was the most prevalent type of IPV during pregnancy and the first four months postpartum. Age and previous violence within the relationship were associated with IPV during pregnancy and IPV during the postpartum period.
The high levels of IPV during pregnancy and the postpartum period highlight the need to develop screening and intervention strategies specifically for this time. Further, women should be screened not only for physical violence but also psychological violence given that psychological violence may result in distinct negative consequences.
PMCID: PMC4254902  PMID: 24889116
intimate partner violence; pregnancy; postpartum; South Africa; prevalence; correlates
8.  A Potential Role for Allostatic Load in Preeclampsia 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):591-597.
Preeclampsia is a multisystemic disorder of pregnancy associated with maternal and fetal complications as well as later-life cardiovascular disease. Its exact cause is not known. We developed a pregnancy-specific multisystem index score of physiologic risk and chronic stress, allostatic load (AL), early in pregnancy. Our objective was to determine whether AL measured early in pregnancy was associated with increased odds of developing preeclampsia.
Data were from a single-center, prospectively collected database in a 1:2 individual-matched case control of women enrolled at <15 weeks gestation. We matched 38 preeclamptic cases to 75 uncomplicated, term deliveries on age, parity, and lifetime smoking status. AL was determined using 9 measures of cardiovascular, metabolic, and inflammatory function. Cases and matched controls were compared using conditional logistic regression. We compared the model's association with preeclampsia to that of obesity, a well-known risk factor for preeclampsia, by assessing goodness-of-fit by Akaike information criterion (AIC), where a difference >1-2 suggests better fit.
Early pregnancy AL was higher in women with preeclampsia (1.25 +/- 0.68 vs. 0.83 +/- 0.62, p=0.002); women with higher AL had increasing odds of developing preeclampsia (OR 2.91, 95% CI 1.50-5.65). The difference between AIC for AL and obesity was >2 (AIC 74.4 vs. 84.4), indicating AL had a stronger association with preeclampsia.
Higher allostatic load in early pregnancy is associated with increasing odds of preeclampsia. This work supports a possible role of multiple maternal systems and chronic stress early in pregnancy in the development of preeclampsia.
PMCID: PMC4270945  PMID: 24939173
preeclampsia; allostatic load; stress; cardiovascular disease risk factors; racial disparities
9.  Plasmodium falciparum Infection is Associated with Epstein–Barr Virus Reactivation in Pregnant Women Living in Malaria Holoendemic Area of Western Kenya 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):606-614.
The role of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in EBV transmission among infants early in life remain elusive. We hypothesized that infection with malaria during pregnancy could cause EBV reactivation leading to high EBV load in circulation, which could subsequently enhance early age of EBV infection.
Pregnant women in Kisumu, where P. falciparum malaria is holoendemic, were actively followed monthly through antenatal visits (up to 4 per mother) and delivery. Using real-time quantitative (Q) – PCR, we quantified and compared EBV and P. falciparum DNA levels in the blood of pregnant women with and without P. falciparum malaria.
Pregnant women that had malaria detected during pregnancy were more likely to have detectable EBV DNA than pregnant women who had no evidence of malaria infection during pregnancy (64% vs. 36%, p=0.01). EBV load as analyzed by quantifying area under the longitudinal observation curve (AUC) was significantly higher in pregnant women with P. falciparum malaria than in women without evidence of malaria infection (p =0.01) regardless of gestational age of pregnancy. Increase in malaria load correlated with increase in EBV load (p <0.0001). EBV load was higher in third trimester (p =0.04) than first and second trimester of pregnancy independent of known infections.
Significantly higher frequency and elevated EBV loads were found in pregnant women with malaria than in women without evidence of P. falciparum infection during pregnancy. The loss of control of EBV latency following P. falciparum infection during pregnancy and subsequent increase in EBV load in circulation could contribute to enhanced shedding of EBV in maternal saliva and breast milk postpartum, but further studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC4272914  PMID: 24951129
EBV load; mother; pregnancy; Plasmodium falciparum malaria
10.  Clinical Correlates of Prescription Opioid Analgesic Use in Pregnancy 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):548-556.
A 2012 committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists highlights the considerable increase in opioid addiction in recent years, yet little is known about clinical correlates of prescribed opioids among pregnant women. This study examines clinical and demographic factors associated with the use of opioid analgesics in pregnancy.
Data were derived from a prospective cohort study of pregnant women. Participants were administered the Composite International Diagnostic Interview to identify depressive and anxiety disorders and data on medication use were gathered at three assessment points and classified according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Code (ATC) classification system ATC group N02A. Participants included 2,748 English or Spanish speaking pregnant women.
Six percent (n=165) of women used opioid analgesics at any point in pregnancy. More pregnant women using opioids met diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (16% vs. 8% for non users), generalized anxiety disorder (18% vs. 9% for non users), post-traumatic stress disorder (11% vs. 4% for non users) and panic disorder (6% vs. 4% for non users). Women who reported opioid use were also significantly more likely than non users to report using illicit drugs and almost three times as likely to report smoking cigarettes in the second or third trimester of pregnancy (4% and 23%, respectively) as compared to non-opioid users (0.5% and 8%).
The use of opioids in pregnancy was associated with higher levels of psychiatric comorbidity and use of other substances as compared to non-opioid users.
PMCID: PMC4272915  PMID: 24951127
11.  Maternal Patterns of Marijuana Use and Early Sexual Behavior in Offspring of Teenage Mothers 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):626-634.
Teenage mothers use marijuana more frequently than older mothers, and marijuana use may predict HIV risk behavior in offspring. Our goals were to (1) describe trajectories of marijuana use in teenage mothers and (2) determine if these trajectories were associated with early sexual behavior in their offspring. Pregnant adolescents (12–18 years) were recruited at a prenatal clinic and interviewed during pregnancy, at delivery, and during follow-up visits when offspring were 6, 10, 14 and 16 years old. At 16 years, 332 women (71 % Black, 29 % White) and their offspring were assessed. Mothers were asked about their marijuana use at each time point. Offspring reported on their sexual behavior at age 14. Trajectory analyses using growth mixture models revealed four maternal patterns of marijuana use: no use, only at the 6 year follow-up, quit by the 16 year follow-up, and used across most of the time points. The children of chronic users were more likely to have early sex. The maternal marijuana trajectory group variable remained a statistically significant predictor in multivariate models controlling for race, gender, socioeconomic status, child pubertal timing, child externalizing behavior problems, and child marijuana use. These findings suggest that a minority of teenage mothers continue to use marijuana over time. Chronic maternal marijuana use across a decade was associated with early sex in offspring (oral or vaginal sex by age 14). Early sexual behavior places these children at significantly higher risk of teenage pregnancy and HIV risk behaviors.
PMCID: PMC4530638  PMID: 24942139
Longitudinal study; Maternal substance use; Adolescent health; Sexual behavior; Health behavior and risk
12.  Neural Tube Defects in Costa Rica, 1987–2012: Origins and Development of Birth Defect Surveillance and Folic Acid Fortification 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):583-590.
Our aim was to provide a descriptive overview of how the birth defects surveillance and folic acid fortification programs were implemented in Costa Rica—through the establishment of the Registry Center for Congenital Anomalies (Centro de Registro de Enfermedades Congénitas—CREC), and fortification legislation mandates. We estimated the overall prevalence of neural tube defects (i.e., spina bifida, anencephaly and encephalocele) before and after fortification captured by CREC. Prevalence was calculated by dividing the total number of infants born with neural tube defects by the total number of live births in the country (1987–2012).A total of 1,170 newborns with neural tube defects were identified from 1987 to 2012 (1992–1995 data excluded); 628 were identified during the baseline pre-fortification period (1987–1991; 1996–1998); 191 during the fortification period (1999–2002); and 351 during the post-fortification time period (2003–2012). The overall prevalence of neural tube defects decreased from 9.8 per 10,000 live-births (95 % CI 9.1–10.5) for the pre-fortification period to 4.8 per 10,000 live births (95 % CI 4.3–5.3) for the post–fortification period. Results indicate a statistically significant (P < 0.05) decrease of 51 % in the prevalence of neural tube defects from the pre-fortification period to the post-fortification period. Folic acid fortification via several basic food sources has shown to be a successful public health intervention for Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s experience can serve as an example for other countries seeking to develop and strengthen both their birth defects surveillance and fortification programs.
PMCID: PMC4539153  PMID: 24952876
Surveillance; Fortification; Costa Rica; Prevalence; Neural tube defects
13.  Breastfeeding versus Formula-Feeding & Girls’ Pubertal Development 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):519-527.
To examine the association of breastfeeding or its duration with timing of girls’ pubertal onset, and the role of BMI as a mediator in these associations.
A population of 1,237 socio-economically and ethnically diverse girls, ages 6–8 years, was recruited across three geographic locations (New York City, Cincinnati, and the San Francisco Bay Area) in a prospective study of predictors of pubertal maturation. Breastfeeding practices were assessed using self-administered questionnaire/interview with the primary caregiver. Girls were seen on at least annual basis to assess breast and pubic hair development. The association of breastfeeding with pubertal timing was estimated using parametric survival analysis while adjusting for body mass index, ethnicity, birth-weight, mother’s education, mother’s menarcheal age, and family income.
Compared to formula fed girls, those who were mixed-fed or predominantly breastfed showed later onset of breast development (Hazard Ratios 0.90 [95% CI, 0.75–1.09] and 0.74 [95% CI, 0.59–0.94], respectively). Duration of breastfeeding was also directly associated with age at onset of breast development (p trend = 0.008). Associations between breastfeeding and pubic hair onset were not significant. In stratified analysis, the association of breastfeeding and later breast onset was seen in Cincinnati girls only.
The association between breast feeding and pubertal onset varied by study site. More research is needed about the environments within which breastfeeding takes place in order to better understand whether infant feeding practices are a potentially modifiable risk factor that may influence age at onset of breast development and subsequent risk for disease in adulthood.
PMCID: PMC4263683  PMID: 24916206
Puberty; Puberty-early onset; Breastfeeding; Body Mass Index
14.  A Content Analysis of Attributions for Resuming Smoking or Maintaining Abstinence in the Post-Partum Period 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):664-674.
A significant proportion of women who self-quit smoking during pregnancy subsequently relapse to smoking post-partum. This study examined free-text responses describing attributions of smoking relapse or maintained abstinence at 1, 8, and 12 months post-partum.
This study reports secondary analyses from a randomized clinical trial (N = 504) for preventing post-partum smoking relapse. At each follow-up, one survey item asked the participant to describe why she resumed smoking or what helped her maintain abstinence. A thematic content analysis was conducted on responses from the 472 participants (94.0 % of the original sample) who returned at least 1 survey.
Content analyses revealed several themes for participants’ reasons for relapse and abstinence. Stress was the most frequently cited reason for smoking relapse across all follow-ups. Health concerns for children and family was the most common reason provided for remaining abstinent. Chi-square analyses revealed differences in written responses related to income, age, and depressive symptoms.
Overall, these findings suggest that during the post-partum period, stress and familial health concerns are perceived contributors to smoking relapse and abstinence, respectively. These results confirmed key risk and protective factors that have been identified through other assessment modalities (e.g., quantitative surveys and focus groups). They also provide support for targeting these variables in the development, content, and delivery of future post-partum smoking relapse-prevention interventions. The high response rate to these open-ended attribution questions suggests that future studies would benefit from including these and similar items, to allow for additional insight into participant perspectives.
PMCID: PMC4284152  PMID: 24996953
post-partum; smoking; relapse prevention; content analysis
15.  Trends in Prevalence of Diabetes Among Delivery Hospitalizations, United States, 1993–2009 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(3):635-642.
To describe recent trends in prevalence of pre-existing diabetes mellitus (PDM) (i.e., type 1 or type 2 diabetes) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) among delivery hospitalizations in the United States. Data on delivery hospitalizations from 1993 through 2009 were obtained from the Health Care Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Diagnosis-Related Group codes were used to identify deliveries and diagnosis codes on presence of diabetes. Rates of hospitalizations with diabetes were calculated per 100 deliveries by type of diabetes, hospital geographic region, patient’s age, degree of urbanicity of patient’s residence, categorized median household income for patient’s ZIP Code, expected primary payer, and type of delivery. From 1993 to 2009, age-standardized prevalence of diabetes per 100 deliveries increased from 0.62 to 0.90 for PDM (trend p < 0.001) and from 3.09 to 5.57 for GDM (trend p < 0.001). In 2009, correlates of PDM at delivery included older age [40–44 vs. 15–24: odds ratio 6.45 (95 % CI 5.27–7.88)], Medicaid/Medicare versus private payment sources [1.77 (95 % CI 1.59–1.98)], patient’s ZIP Code with a median household income in bottom quartile versus other quartiles [1.54 (95 % CI 1.41, 1.69)], and C-section versus vaginal delivery [3.36 (95 % CI 3.10–3.64)]. Correlates of GDM at delivery were similar. Among U.S. delivery hospitalizations, the prevalence of diabetes is increasing. In 2009, the prevalence of diabetes was higher among women in older age groups, living in ZIP codes with lower household incomes, or with public insurance.
PMCID: PMC4527040  PMID: 24996952
Diabetes; Pregnancy; Prevalence; Surveillance
16.  Among Children with Food Allergy, Do Sociodemographic Factors and Healthcare Use Differ by Severity? 
Maternal and child health journal  2012;16(0 1):S44-S50.
Among children with food allergy, we aim to describe differences in allergy severity by sociodemographic characteristics and potential differences in healthcare characteristics according to food allergy severity. Using the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, we identified children with food allergies based on parental report (n = 4,657). Food allergic children were classified by the severity of their food allergy, as either mild (n = 2,333) or moderate/severe (n = 2,285). Using logistic regression, we estimated the odds of having moderate/severe versus mild food allergy by sociodemographic characteristics and the odds of having selected healthcare characteristics by food allergy severity. Among children with food allergy, those who were older (ages 6 through 17 years) and those who had siblings were more likely to have moderate/severe allergy compared to their younger and only-child counterparts. There were no significant differences in severity by other sociodemographic characteristics. Children with a moderate/severe food allergy were more likely to report use of an Individual Education Plan (OR = 1.88 [1.31, 2.70]) and to have seen a specialist than those with mild food allergy. Among younger children with food allergy, those with moderate/severe food allergy were more likely to require more services than is usual compared with those with mild allergy. Associations between allergy severity and health care-related variables did not differ significantly by race/ethnicity, income level, or maternal education. We report few differences in allergy severity by sociodemographic characteristics of food allergic children. In addition, we found that associations between allergy severity and use of health related services did not differ significantly by race/ethnicity or poverty status among children with food allergy. Given the importance of food allergy as an emerging public health issue, further research to confirm these findings would be useful.
PMCID: PMC4741090  PMID: 22450958
Food allergy; Health survey; Healthcare disparities
17.  Medical Home Access Among American Indian and Alaska Native Children in 7 States: National Survey of Children’s Health 
Maternal and child health journal  2012;16(0 1):S6-13.
To describe the prevalence of medical home among American Indian and Alaska Native children (AIAN) compared to non-Hispanic white (NHW) children and identify areas for improvement in the provision of care within a medical home. Prevalence of medical home, defined as family-centered, comprehensive, coordinated, compassionate, culturally effective care, including a personal doctor or nurse and usual care location, was estimated using 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health data. Analyses included 1–17 year-olds in states reporting AIAN race as a distinct category (Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, n = 9,764). Associations between medical home and demographic (child’s age, household education and income, and state) and health-related [child’s insurance status, special health care need status, and past year Indian Health Service (IHS) utilization] characteristics were assessed among AIAN children. Overall, the prevalence of medical home was 27 % lower among AIAN children (42.6, 95 % CI = 34.4–50.8) than NHW children (58.3, 95 % CI = 56.2–60.4). Child’s age (adjusted OR [aOR] = 2.7, 95 % CI = 1.3–5.6) was significantly associated with medical home. IHS utilization was associated with medical home among AIAN children with private insurance (aOR = 0.2, 95 % CI = 0.1–0.4), but not among uninsured or publicly insured children. Care coordination and family-centered care were noted areas for improvement among AIAN children. Less than half of AIAN children had a medical home. Future studies should further examine the intersection between insurance and IHS to determine if enhanced coordination is needed for this population, which is often served by multiple federally-funded health-related programs.
PMCID: PMC4741308  PMID: 22466686
Medical home; Disparities; American Indians; National Survey of Children’s Health
18.  Effect of Previous Miscarriage on Depressive Symptoms during Subsequent Pregnancy and Postpartum in the First Baby Study 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(2):391-400.
Our objective was to test the hypothesis that nulliparous women with a history of miscarriage have an increased risk of depression during late pregnancy, and at 1, 6, and 12 months postpartum compared to women without a history of miscarriage.
We conducted secondary analysis of a longitudinal cohort study, the First Baby Study, and compared 448 pregnant women with a history of miscarriage to 2343 pregnant women without a history of miscarriage on risk of probable depression (score >12 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios at each time point and generalized estimating equations were used to obtain estimates in longitudinal analysis.
Women with a history of miscarriage were not more likely than woman without a history of miscarriage to score in the probable depression range during the third trimester or at 6 or 12 months postpartum but were more likely at 1 month postpartum, after adjustment for sociodemographic factors (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.03 – 2.69).
Women with a history of miscarriage may be more vulnerable to depression during the first month postpartum than women without prior miscarriage, but this effect does not appear to persist beyond this time period. We support the promotion of awareness surrounding this issue and recommend that research is planned to identify risk factors that may position a woman with a history of miscarriage to be at higher risk for depression.
PMCID: PMC4256135  PMID: 24894728
Perinatal loss; Perinatal depression; Pregnancy; Postpartum depression; Miscarriage
19.  The Relationship Between Race, Inflammation and Psychosocial Factors Among Pregnant Women 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(2):401-409.
African American women have higher rates of preterm birth (PTB) than women from other racial or ethnic backgrounds. We explored the possibility that African American women experience higher anxiety/lower optimism levels, leading to excess inflammation, a possible pathway leading to PTB. In a cohort of 434 nulliparous women (African American, n = 119; Caucasian, n = 315), standardized measures of anxiety and optimism were completed at 20 weeks’ gestation. C-reactive protein (CRP) was measured in serum collected at the same time, and interleukin-6 (IL-6) was additionally measured in African American women. African American women tended to have higher rates of anxiety ([75th percentile) compared to Caucasian women (27.3 vs. 19.2 %, p = 0.08), but rates of low optimism (<25th percentile) did not vary by race. Contrary to our hypothesis, higher concentrations of CRP among African American women were associated with lower risk of anxiety in the highest quartile, adjusted for covariates (OR 0.65, 95 % CI 0.44, 0.98). Low optimism in African American women was also associated with lower IL-6, but results were only marginally signifi-cant (OR 0.43, 95 % CI 0.17, 1.10). CRP, anxiety, and optimism were not correlated among Caucasian women. African American women with high anxiety or low optimism had lower concentrations of pro-inflammatory markers at mid-gestation compared to those without these characteristics. Our results suggest that chronic anxiety among African American women may contribute to intractable race disparities in pregnancy outcomes via an impaired inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC4257889  PMID: 24898691
Anxiety; Inflammation; Pregnancy; Psychosocial factors; Race disparity
21.  Hospital Costs Associated with Stillbirth Delivery 
Maternal and child health journal  2013;17(10):1835-1841.
Fetal deaths account for nearly one percent of all births in the United States. The cost of hospital care associated with fetal deaths may be substantial. However, there is very limited data on the economic burden of fetal death.
We conducted a retrospective medical chart review of stillbirths at three large hospitals in Michigan over a ten-year period and identified medical complications, hospital costs, and length of stay for these deliveries. Mothers with stillbirth were matched with mothers of the same age who delivered a live-born infant at the same hospital during the same year.
Our final sample was comprised of 533 stillbirths and 1053 matched live births. Average hospital cost for stillbirth was $7495 (±7015) and the average length of stay was 2.8 days (±2.8). Having a serious maternal medical complication was associated with higher costs and longer length of stay among women with stillbirth. Early stillbirths between 20–28 weeks gestational age, epidural/spinal/general anesthesia, and cesarean delivery were also associated with longer length of stay. Average hospital costs for women with stillbirth were more than $750 higher than women with live births but length of stay was not significantly different between the two.
This study suggests that stillbirths were associated with substantial maternal hospital costs. Future research examining the economic impact of stillbirths beyond labor and delivery such as increased costs associated with additional testing and care in subsequent pregnancies will help better understand the overall economic impact of stillbirths.
PMCID: PMC4721568  PMID: 23242573
fetal death; hospital costs; length of stay; obstetrics; stillbirth
22.  Catalyzing a Reproductive Health and Social Justice Movement 
Objectives The maternal and child health (MCH) community, partnering with women and their families, has the potential to play a critical role in advancing a new multi-sector social movement focused on creating a women’s reproductive and economic justice agenda. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the MCH field has been planting seeds for change. The time has come for this work to bear fruit as many states are facing stagnant or slow progress in reducing infant mortality, increasing maternal death rates, and growing health inequities. Methods This paper synthesizes three current, interrelated approaches to addressing MCH challenges—life course theory, preconception health, and social justice/reproductive equity. Conclusion Based on these core constructs, the authors offer four directions for advancing efforts to improve MCH outcomes. The first is to ensure access to quality health care for all. The second is to facilitate change through critical conversations about challenging issues such as poverty, racism, sexism, and immigration; the relevance of evidence-based practice in disenfranchised communities; and how we might be perpetuating inequities in our institutions. The third is to develop collaborative spaces in which leaders across diverse sectors can see their roles in creating equitable neighborhood conditions that ensure optimal reproductive choices and outcomes for women and their families. Last, the authors suggest that leaders engage the MCH workforce and its consumers in dialogue and action about local and national policies that address the social determinants of health and how these policies influence reproductive and early childhood outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4792350  PMID: 26740226
Preconception; Life course; Reproductive equity; MCH leadership; Health equity; Infant mortality; Social determinants of health
23.  Effects of Maternity Care Coordination on Pregnancy Outcomes: Propensity-Weighted Analyses 
Maternal and child health journal  2015;19(1):121-127.
Care coordination services that link pregnant women to health-promoting resources, avoid duplication of effort, and improve communication between families and providers have been endorsed as a strategy for reducing disparities in adverse pregnancy outcomes, however empirical evidence regarding the effects of these services is contradictory and incomplete. This study investigates the effects of maternity care coordination on pregnancy outcomes in North Carolina.
Birth certificate and Medicaid claims data were analyzed for 7,124 women delivering live infants in North Carolina from October 2008 through September 2010, of whom 2,255 received Maternity Care Coordination (MCC) services. Propensity-weighted analyses were conducted to reduce the influence of selection bias in evaluating program participation. Sensitivity analyses compared these results to conventional OLS analyses.
The unadjusted preterm birth rate was lower among women who received MCC services (7.0 percent compared to 8.3 percent among controls). Propensity-weighted analyses demonstrated that women receiving services had a 1.8 percentage point reduction in preterm birth risk; p<0.05). MCC services were also associated with lower pregnancy weight gain (p=0.10). No effects of MCC were seen for birthweight.
These findings suggest that coordination of care in pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of preterm delivery among Medicaid-enrolled women. Further research evaluating specific components of care coordination services and their effects on preterm birth risk among racial/ethnic and geographic subgroups of Medicaid enrolled mothers could inform efforts to reduce disparities in pregnancy outcome.
PMCID: PMC4459720  PMID: 24770956
24.  Domestic violence among adolescents in HIV prevention research in Tanzania: Participant experiences and measurement issues 
Under-representation of female adolescents in HIV clinical trials may inhibit their access to future prevention technologies. Domestic violence, broadly defined as violence perpetrated by intimate partners and/or family members, may affect trial participation. This study describes violence in the lives of adolescents and young women in Tanzania, explores use of the Women’s Experience with Battering (WEB) Scale to measure battering, and examines the associations between battering and socio-demographic and HIV risk factors.
Community formative research (CFR) and a mock clinical trial (MCT) were conducted to examine the challenges of recruiting younger (15-17) versus older (18-21) participants into HIV prevention trials. The CFR included qualitative interviews with 23 participants and there were 135 MCT participants. The WEB was administered in both the CFR and MCT.
Nineteen CFR participants experienced physical/sexual violence and 17% scored positive for battering. All married participants reported partner-related domestic violence, and half scored positive for battering. Many believed beatings were normal. None of the single participants scored positive on battering, but one-third reported abuse by relatives. Among MCT participants, 15% scored positive for battering; most perpetrators were relatives. Younger participants were more likely to report battering.
Adolescents experienced high rates of domestic violence and the WEB captured battering from both partners and relatives. The level of familial violence was unexpected and has implications for parental roles in study recruitment. Addressing adolescent abuse in HIV prevention trials and in the general population should be a public health priority.
PMCID: PMC4201631  PMID: 24740725
adolescents; domestic violence; HIV prevention; clinical trials; Tanzania
25.  Variation in Child Health Care Utilization by Medical Complexity 
Children with medical complexity (CMC) have multiple specialty need, technology dependence, and high health care utilization. The objective of this study is to profile types of pediatric health care utilization and costs by increasing levels of medical complexity.
Cross-sectional study of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Full-Year Data Sets from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Medical complexity was defined by a higher number of positive items from the five question Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Screener. CMC were defined by ≥4 positive screener items. Outcomes included the number of inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department visits, associated costs and diagnoses, and reported satisfaction. ICD-9 codes were grouped by Clinical Classifications Software.
Of 27,755 total study subjects ≤17 years, 4,851 had special needs and 541 were CMC. Older age, male gender, white/non-Hispanic race/ethnicity, and public insurance were all associated with medical complexity (all p<.001). CMC had an annual mean of 19 annual outpatient visits ($616) and 0.26 inpatient visits ($3,308), with other significant cost drivers including home health ($2,957) and prescriptions ($2,182). The most common reasons for non-CSHCN and less-complex CSHCN outpatient visits were viral illnesses, while the main reasons for CMC visits were for mental health. Compared to families without CSHCN, those with CMC have, on average, lower satisfaction with health care (8.4 versus 8.9 out of 10, p<.001).
Health care models for CMC should account for mental health conditions that may be driving high numbers of outpatient encounters.
PMCID: PMC4201636  PMID: 24740726
children with special health care needs; complex care; complex chronic conditions; health care disparities; medical home

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