Objective: The purpose of our analysis was to provide a national overview of the magnitude of the public health burden associated with inpatient care for pregnancy complications.
Study design: We analyzed data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey for 1986 and 1987. We calculated ratios of hospitalizations for pregnancy complications for every 100 hospitalizations involving a birth. Standard errors for these ratios were calculated with RATIOEST, and relative ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated for subgroups of interest.
Results: We found that for every 100 hospitalizations involving a birth, there were 22.2 nondelivery hospitalizations for pregnancy complications (14.6 antenatal complications, 7.6 pregnancy loss complications). These ratios were higher for black than for white women (relative ratio 1.4, 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 1.6). The effects of marital status, age, and insurance coverage differed between black and white women, and mean length of stay was longer for black than for white women.
Conclusion: Hospitalization for pregnancy complications is far more common than is widely appreciated and is more frequent among black than white women.