Prenatal Behavioral Counseling Can Reduce Some Health Risk Factors Among Low-Income Black Women, Study Finds
Pregnant black women who participate in a few sessions of behavioral counseling are more likely to reduce certain risky behaviors than those who participate in standard prenatal care, according to a study published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, Reuters Health reports.
The study, led by researcher Ayman El-Mohandes of George Washington University Medical Center, looked at 1,070 low-income black women receiving prenatal care at one of six Washington, D.C., clinics. The women all reported risk factors such as smoking, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke or depression, or were victims of domestic abuse. About half of the women randomly were assigned to receive behavioral counseling, which included attending an average of four 30-minute sessions during pregnancy and one session after giving birth. The remaining women received standard prenatal care.
After several interviews with the women during their pregnancy and one conducted 10 weeks after delivery, researchers found significant reductions in high-risk behavior by the end of the study period. Researchers found that by the end of the study period:
- 55% reported being exposed to second-hand smoke 10 weeks after giving birth, down from 83% at the beginning of the study period;
- 27% reported being depressed, down from 51%;
- 10% reported domestic abuse, down from 37%; and
- Women who had received the counseling were 86% more likely to have "resolved" all of their risks, and 60% were more likely to have addressed at least one risk factor.
According to the study, the findings suggest that just a few prenatal counseling sessions could produce long-term health benefits to women and their children. Researchers noted that offering such counseling through existing social service programs could help more women (Reuters Health, 9/4).
An abstract of the study is available online.
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