New Jersey Health Commissioner Should Improve Prenatal Care Resources To Address Racial, Economic Disparities, Editorial States
The prenatal care report released last week by New Jersey Health Commissioner Heather Howard that found "wide economic and racial disparities" is "startling and ominous" and "requires immediate attention and action," an Asbury Park Press editorial states (Asbury Park Press, 9/9). The report found that teenagers, minorities and single women in New Jersey all have a higher risk of poor birth outcomes and also are less likely than others to receive early prenatal care (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 9/4).
The report shows that more than one-third of black women and slightly less than one-third of Hispanic women in the state did not receive early prenatal care, and fewer women -- among all races -- received prenatal care in 2004 than did in 1990, "despite growing medical evidence that such care is critical to the health of the mother and child," according to the editorial. Such "statistics are not likely to improve unless there is prompt and decisive action," the editorial states.
"Howard needs to take a hard look within her department to see how available resources can be better distributed throughout the state," the editorial says. She also must "work with the Legislature to stop the flight of ob-gyn doctors out of New Jersey and find the funding to reopen the hospital prenatal clinics that have been eliminated for financial reasons," the editorial adds, concluding, "As Howard has stated, healthy babies stand far better chances of growing into healthy children and adults. In the long run, proper prenatal care saves both lives and money" (Asbury Park Press, 9/9).