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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Childbearing

Rural Hospitals and Obstetric Care

It’s 4 A.M. The baby’s coming. But the hospital is 100 miles away., By Jack Healy, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “A few hours after the only hospital in town shut its doors forever, Kela Abernathy bolted awake at 4:30 a.m., screaming in pain. Oh God, she remembered thinking, it’s the twins. They were not due for another two months. But the contractions seizing Ms. Abernathy’s lower back early that June morning told her that her son and daughter were coming. Now. Ms. Abernathy, 21, staggered out of bed and yelled for her mother, Lynn, who had been lying awake on the living-room couch. They grabbed a few bags, scooped up Ms. Abernathy’s 2-year-old son and were soon hurtling across this poor patch of southeast Missouri in their Pontiac Bonneville, racing for help. The old hospital used to be around the corner. Now, her new doctor and hospital were nearly 100 miles away…”

Pregnancy Rate of Foster Youth – Texas

Teens in foster care more likely to become pregnant than other Texas youths, report finds, By Jackie Wang, April 16, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The pregnancy rate for teens in foster care is almost five times as high as the rate for other Texas girls ages 13 to 17, according to a report from an advocacy group. The analysis, which Texans Care for Children released Monday, also found that more than half of teens who age out of foster care at 18 or extend their time until 21 will become pregnant before they turn 20. That’s double the 1 in 4 American teens who will be pregnant before turning 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy…”

Maternal and Infant Mortality

  • Why America’s black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis, By Linda Villarosa, April 11, 2018, New York Times Magazine: “When Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma’s birthday that she was carrying a girl. She decided she would name her daughter Harmony. ‘I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing,’ says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. ‘It was something I thought we could do together.’  But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed…”
  • Report: Texas’ maternal deaths were dramatically lower in 2012 under new methodology, By Marissa Evans, April 9, 2018, Texas Tribune: “The number of Texas women who died from pregnancy complications in 2012 is being cut by more than half through a new state method for counting and confirming maternal deaths — which made Texas the subject of national news coverage over its high death rate. Several of the state’s top health experts released a report in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Monday  showing that by using the new method, the number of women who died dropped from 147 to 56…”

Maternal Mortality – Texas

Dangerous deliveries, By Marissa Evans and Chris Essig, January 16, 2018, Texas Tribune: “In the photos flashing on the projector screen, Michelle Zavala had a look of serenity. In one, her eyes were closed as she smiled with her newborn daughter Clara nestled under her chin. Another showed her kissing her husband Chris on vacation. Another captured her laughing while stomping grapes at a vineyard, radiating the positivity that people loved about her. Below the screen, Michelle lay in a casket, surrounded by bouquets of flowers. The Pflugerville woman died in July — just nine days after giving birth to Clara — from a blood clot in her heart. She was 35. Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology…”

Maternal Mortality

New maternal mortality strategy relies on ‘medical homes’, By Michael Ollove, December 5, 2017, Stateline: “When Hannah White first showed up at the Mountain Area Health Education Center here three years ago, she was in trouble. She was 20 years old, a couple months into her first pregnancy and on the run from an abusive husband in Texas who already had broken her ribs in an attempt, she said, to kill her unborn child. She also has a form of hemophilia which prevents her body from producing platelet granules that stem bleeding. That disease had robbed her of her Malawian mother when Hannah was three months old, which ultimately led to her adoption by American missionaries…”

Maternal Mortality

The quiet crisis among African Americans: Pregnancy and childbirth are killing women at inexplicable rates, By Ann M. Simmons, October 26, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Three weeks after Cassaundra Lynn Perkins gave birth to premature twins, she returned to the hospital, feeling unwell. She phoned her mother from her hospital bed at 3:30 in the morning. ‘I’m just not feeling good,’ she said. Surely it was just another bout of the mysterious illness her daughter had been suffering from for most of her pregnancy, Cheryl Givens-Perkins thought as she rushed over to San Antonio’s North Central Baptist Hospital…”

Prison Diversion Programs for Mothers

Breaking the  cycle of incarceration by keeping mothers and children together, By Rebecca Beitsch, September 13, 2017, Stateline: “When Stephanie Petitt was arrested for violating probation for prior drug and robbery convictions, she learned two things: She was 16 weeks pregnant, and she would probably deliver her baby while incarcerated at an Oklahoma prison. In most places, an incarcerated woman who gives birth almost immediately hands over her newborn to a social worker, who places the child with a relative or with foster parents. Petitt said she was told she would have an hour to hold her newborn. Just a few states offer alternatives that allow mother and child to stay together longer. At least eight states have so-called prison nurseries where nonviolent female offenders live with their children for a few months to several years…”

Infant Mortality

Cities enlist ‘doulas’ to reduce infant mortality, By Michael Ollove, August 17, 2017, Stateline: “This city has opened a new front in its effort to give black newborns the same chance of surviving infancy as white babies: training ‘doulas’ to assist expectant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and afterward. The doula initiative is the latest salvo in the Baltimore City Health Department’s 7-year-old program to combat high infant mortality rates among black newborns…”

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Programs that fight teenage pregnancy are at risk of being cut, By Pam Belluck, August 10, 2017, New York Times: “At age 14, Latavia Burton knows something about teenage pregnancy. Her mother gave birth to her at 18 and couldn’t attend college because of it. And Latavia’s former best friend became pregnant at 16.  So a pregnancy prevention program in eighth grade and another in her neighborhood this summer hit home…”

State Medicaid Programs – Texas, Maine

  • How Medicaid expansion could help Texas mothers, By Behrouz Zand, August 3, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Between 2010 and 2012, the rate doubled. And the rate in Texas between 2012 and 2014 remained high, with approximately 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Texas’ rates are about seven times greater than in Canada and European countries. As a result, the Texas Legislature established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force in 2013. This 15-member task force of mostly physicians and healthcare experts set out to find out why pregnancy-related deaths have skyrocketed and what can be done to decrease them…”
  • Maine moves ahead with plan to charge Medicaid recipients, make them work, By Patty Wight, August 3, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “People who receive MaineCare — the state’s version of Medicaid — may soon have to work and pay monthly premiums in order to get benefits. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services officially filed an application this week to the federal government to make those changes. Critics say Maine’s plan would erect barriers to health care that will drive up costs for everyone…”

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Trump administration cuts short anti-teen pregnancy grants, By Carolyn Thompson (AP), July 25, 2017, ABC News: “Dozens of teen pregnancy prevention programs deemed ineffective by President Donald Trump’s administration will lose more than $200 million in funding following a surprise decision to end five-year grants after only three years. The administration’s assessment is in sharp contrast with that of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which credited the program with contributing to an all-time low rate of teen pregnancies…”

Medicaid and Maternity Care – Alabama

Some Medicaid mothers must wait weeks, months before first doctor’s visit, By Anna Claire Vollers, May 8, 2017, AL.com: “When Katie Silvia learned she was pregnant in November 2016, her first call wasn’t to her obstetrician – it was to the Alabama Medicaid office. Her husband had received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama that his insurance, a Blue Cross plan purchased through the health exchange, was not going to cover her pregnancy because their income level qualified her for pregnancy Medicaid. But according to doctors and patients, Alabama’s complex maternity Medicaid process can mean some moms don’t get their first OBGYN appointment until they’re well into their second trimester, 13 or more weeks into their pregnancies…”

Nurse Family Partnership

How nurses can help low-income mothers and kids, By Nancy Cook, January 14, 2015, The Atlantic: “At the start of her junior year of college, 19-year-old Camille Wallace discovered she was pregnant. At the time, she lived in student housing with three roommates in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her relationship with the father of her child had already ended. And her financial situation? Well, that was precarious. Wallace supported herself by working temporary or seasonal jobs on vacation breaks, earning no more than $5,000 to $6,000 a year. “I was a typical college student, eating ramen noodles every day,” Wallace, now 25, remembers. ‘I thought: ‘I can barely feed myself. How can I feed this child?” Wallace’s outlook changed, however, when she saw a flyer for something called Nurse Family Partnership. The maternal-health and home-visitation program set up shop in South Carolina in 2009, and it offered her a lifeline during this daunting period…”

Childbearing Trends

3 charts that show America’s poverty problems start at birth, By Danielle Kurtzelben, July 9, 2014, Vox: “A new Census report confirms a few longstanding childbearing trends: women are having children more and more outside of marriage, and more educated women tend to have children later. But it also shows something more surprising: the share of children born into poverty is large, and it may be getting worse. In 2012, more than one in four women having kids — nearly 28 percent — were living in poverty that year. That’s up markedly from 2008, when the share was only 25 percent. By comparison, only around 15 percent of Americans were in poverty altogether that year. . .”