Prenatal Care Use, Access Among Oklahoma’s American Indian Women Increases, Report Finds
The gap between American Indian and white women in access to and use of prenatal care is narrowing in Oklahoma, according to a report released Wednesday by the state Department of Health's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, Tulsa World reports. The report compared data from 2000 to 2005 with a similar report released in 1994.
According to the report, 77% of American Indian pregnant women received prenatal care in the first trimester, compared with 79% of white pregnant women. In contrast, data from the 1994 report showed that 74% of American Indian pregnant women and 84% of white pregnant women received prenatal care in the first trimester (Riggs, Tulsa World, 12/13).
The report also found that:
- 95.7% of American Indian pregnant women and 97% of white pregnant women confirmed their pregnancies in the first trimester, an improvement over the figures from the 1994 report (AP/Oklahoman, 12/12);
- More American Indian pregnant women than white pregnant women smoked before pregnancy, though American Indian women were more likely than white women to stop smoking during pregnancy;
- One-quarter of Oklahoma's American Indian women who had given birth had become pregnant before age 18, compared with 14.3% of white women who had given birth before 18 (Tulsa World, 12/13); and
- American Indian women were more likely than white women to have unintended pregnancies and not be married at the time they gave birth (AP/Oklahoman, 12/12).
The report recommended developing culturally focused pregnancy and prenatal care education programs, helping ensure immediate access to prenatal care, finding ways to teach American Indian women about family planning options and working to allow easier access to birth control prescriptions at health facilities (Tulsa World, 12/13).
State Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Mike Crutcher said, "Finding ways to reduce health disparities can save lives and improve the overall health of Oklahoma's mothers and babies. The work done by tribal leaders in this area is commendable" (AP/Oklahoman, 12/12).
Study co-author Alicia Lincoln, project manager for the state's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, said, "We've done a great job here in the 10 to 15 years since the previous study in turning the disparity into a parity" (Tulsa World, 12/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.