Racial Disparities in Prenatal Care Utilization and Infant Small for Gestational Age Among Active Duty US Military Women

Clinton Hall*, Anna T. Bukowinski, April L. McGill, Whitney B. You, Gia R. Gumbs, Natalie Y. Wells, Ava Marie S. Conlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To examine racial disparities in prenatal care (PNC) utilization and infant small for gestational age (SGA) among active duty US military women, a population with equal access to health care and known socioeconomic status. Methods: Department of Defense Birth and Infant Health Research program data identified active duty women with singleton live births from January 2003 through August 2015. Administrative claims data were used to define PNC utilization and infant SGA, and log-binomial regression models estimated associations with race/ethnicity. To examine whether associations between maternal race/ethnicity and infant SGA were subject to effect measure modification, respective analyses were stratified by demographic and health characteristics. Results: Overall, 12.2% of non-Hispanic White women initiated PNC after the first trimester, compared with 14.8% of American Indian/Alaska Native, 15.1% of Asian/Pacific Islander, 14.2% of non-Hispanic Black, and 13.0% of Hispanic women. Infant SGA prevalence was 2.4% and 1.6% among non-Hispanic Black and White women, respectively (aRR 1.52, 95% CI 1.40–1.64). This disparity persisted across stratified analyses, particularly among non-Hispanic Black versus White women with a preeclampsia or hypertension diagnosis in pregnancy (RR 1.96, 95% CI 1.67–2.29) and those aged 35 + years at infant birth (RR 2.04, 95% CI 1.56–2.67). Conclusions for Practice: In multiple assessments of PNC utilization and infant SGA, non-Hispanic Black military women had consistently worse outcomes than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. This suggests that equal access to health care does not eliminate racial disparities in outcomes or utilization; additional research is needed to elucidate the underlying etiology of these disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)885-893
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Active duty women
  • Military
  • Prenatal care
  • Racial disparities
  • Small for gestational age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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