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Reduced risk of low weight births among indigent women receiving care from nurse-midwives


STUDY OBJECTIVE To examine the effect of a comprehensive prenatal and delivery programme administered by nurse-midwives on the risk of low weight births among indigent women.

STUDY DESIGN Historical prospective study. Birth outcomes among the cohort were compared with all county births during the same period, adjusting for maternal age and race. Results are expressed as relative risks with 95% confidence intervals.

SETTING An enhanced Medicaid funded pre-natal programme administered by nurse-midwives from 1992 to 1994 in Westchester County, New York.

PARTICIPANTS Indigent mothers (n=1443), between the ages of 15 and 44, who were residents of Westchester County and indicated having Medicaid or no health care coverage.

RESULTS There were 1474 live births among cohort mothers. Mean (SD) gestational age was 39.4 (1.9) weeks. Less than 6% of births occurred before 37 weeks gestation. The mean birth weight of cohort infants was 3365.6 (518.6) g. Only 4.1% of the cohort births were less than 2500 g. Compared with all county births, the cohort showed a 41% reduction in the risk of low weight births (RRlbw=0.59, 95%CI: 0.46 to 0.73, p<.001 ) and a 56% reduction when compared with county Medicaid births only (RR=0.44, 95%CI: 0.34 to 0.57, p<.005) adjusting for maternal age and race. Larger reductions were found for very low weight births.

CONCLUSIONS Mothers need not be considered at high risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes based on their socioeconomic status alone. Moreover, a comprehensive prenatal programme administered by nurse-midwifes may promote a reduction in adverse pregnancy outcomes among indigent mothers.

  • low birth weight
  • prenatal care
  • indigent mothers
  • nurse-midwife

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