Prenatal Care Use, Access Among Oklahoma's American Indian Women Increases

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Prenatal Care

Thegap between American Indian and white women in access to and use of prenatalcare is narrowing in Oklahoma,according to a report released Wednesday by the state Department of Health's Pregnancy Risk Assessment MonitoringSystem, Tulsa World reports. The report compared data from 2000 to2005 with a similar report released in 1994.

According to the report, 77% of American Indian pregnant women receivedprenatal care in the first trimester, compared with 79% of white pregnantwomen. In contrast, data from the 1994 report showed that 74% of AmericanIndian pregnant women and 84% of white pregnant women received prenatal care inthe 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;

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  • 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 prenatalcare education programs, helping ensure immediate access to prenatal care,finding ways to teach American Indian women about family planning options andworking to allow easier access to birth control prescriptions at healthfacilities (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 theoverall health of Oklahoma'smothers and babies. The work done by tribal leaders in this area iscommendable" (AP/Oklahoman, 12/12).

Study co-author Alicia Lincoln, project manager for the state's Pregnancy Risk Assessment MonitoringSystem, said, "We've done a great job here in the 10 to 15 years since theprevious study in turning the disparity into a parity" (Tulsa World,12/13).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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