Racial/ethnic disparities in obstetric outcomes and care: prevalence and determinants

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Apr;202(4):335-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.10.864. Epub 2010 Jan 12.


Wide disparities in obstetric outcomes exist between women of different race/ethnicities. The prevalence of preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, fetal demise, maternal mortality, and inadequate receipt of prenatal care all vary by maternal race/ethnicity. These disparities have their roots in maternal health behaviors, genetics, the physical and social environments, and access to and quality of health care. Elimination of the health inequities because of sociocultural differences or access to or quality of health care will require a multidisciplinary approach. We aim to describe these obstetric disparities, with an eye toward potential etiologies, thereby improving our ability to target appropriate solutions.

Keywords: disparities; maternal mortality; obstetrical care; preterm birth; race/ethnicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / ethnology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / ethnology*
  • Premature Birth / ethnology
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology