Use of perinatal and infant health services by Mexican-American Medicaid enrollees

JAMA. 1994 Jul 27;272(4):297-304.


Objectives: Lack of health insurance and a regular source of medical care are barriers affecting use of health services by Mexican Americans. We studied perinatal and infant health service use by Mexican-American women and non-Hispanic white women and their infants enrolled in Arizona's Medicaid program and explored characteristics associated with use of health services.

Design: A descriptive comparative study that used data collected from office records, birth certificates, and household interviews.

Setting: Participants resided in the state's most populous county and were enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, a health maintenance organization-oriented Medicaid demonstration project.

Subjects: Random sample of 308 Mexican-American mother-infant dyads and 312 non-Hispanic white mother-infant dyads. The women were enrolled before the sixth month of pregnancy and for 60 days post partum; their infants were continuously enrolled throughout their first year.

Outcome measures: Timing and number of prenatal visits and a modified Kessner Index, postpartum visits, number and purpose of office visits during the infants' first year, and immunizations received.

Results: Mexican Americans averaged fewer prenatal visits than non-Hispanic whites (8.6 vs 10.2 visits) and were less likely to have "adequate" care (41.1% vs 52.8%). Both groups of mothers are well below the 68% of women nationally who receive adequate prenatal care. Controlling for important socioeconomic status and cultural characteristics, ethnicity had a strong independent effect on the number of prenatal visits and adequacy of prenatal care. Mexican-American infants made fewer visits (8.2 vs 9.8) and completed fewer age-appropriate immunizations than non-Hispanic whites.

Conclusions: Health insurance and a regular source of care are insufficient conditions for ensuring adequate use of maternal and child health services by Mexican-American Medicaid enrollees. Factors associated with their less frequent use of these preventive health services include higher numbers of children, transportation problems, and less assistance from their support system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adult
  • Arizona
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Immunization / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postnatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States