Sexual Orientation Disparities in Preconception Health

Aubrey Limburg*, Bethany G. Everett, Stefanie Mollborn, Michelle A. Kominiarek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: In the United States, there have been very few improvements in adverse birth outcomes, such as infant mortality, low birthweight, and preterm birth in recent years. Health promotion before pregnancy (e.g., preconception care) has been increasingly recognized as an important strategy by which to improve these reproductive outcomes. As of yet, no research has examined sexual orientation disparities in preconception health which has important implications for birth outcomes in the United States, since sexual minority women (SMW) are more likely to report stillbirths, low birthweight, and preterm infants than heterosexual women. Methods: This study addresses this gap by utilizing data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine sexual orientation disparities in women's preconception health 1 and 3 years before a live birth (n = 3,133). Results: Our findings suggest that, even after controlling for maternal characteristics, SMW are more likely to report adverse health conditions and behaviors before pregnancy relative to heterosexual women 1 year before the survey, including higher odds of binge drinking, other substance use, having a sexually transmitted infection diagnosis, and depression. Conclusions: Despite new public health policies aimed at improved preconception health, our findings suggest that SMW are even more vulnerable to poor preconception health than their heterosexual counterparts, which has important implications for maternal and child health. This study provides important evidence for the need to invest in the reproductive health of SMW, particularly in the context of pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-762
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • health disparities
  • preconception health
  • sexual minority women
  • sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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