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Women's Reproductive Rights Policies and Adverse Birth Outcomes: A State-Level Analysis to Assess the Role of Race and Nativity Status

  • May Sudhinaraset
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: May Sudhinaraset, PhD, Community Health Sciences, Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles CA 90095.
    Affiliations
    Community Health Sciences, Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Dovile Vilda
    Affiliations
    Mary Amelia Douglas-Whited Community Women's Health Education Center, Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana
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  • Jessica D. Gipson
    Affiliations
    Community Health Sciences, Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Marta Bornstein
    Affiliations
    Community Health Sciences, Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

    California Center for Population Research, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Maeve E. Wallace
    Affiliations
    Mary Amelia Douglas-Whited Community Women's Health Education Center, Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana
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Published:October 13, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.07.025

      Introduction

      Reproductive rights policies can potentially support or inhibit individuals’ abilities to attain the highest standard of reproductive and sexual health; however, research is limited on how broader social policies may differentially impact women of color and immigrants in the U.S. This study examines the associations among state-level reproductive rights policies, race, and nativity status with preterm birth and low birth weight in the U.S.

      Methods

      This was a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of all births occurring within all the 50 states and the District of Columbia using vital statistics birth record data in 2016 (N=3,945,875). Modified log-Poisson regression models with generalized estimating equations were fitted to estimate the RR of preterm birth and low birth weight associated with tertiles of the reproductive rights policies index. Analyses were conducted between 2019 and 2020.

      Results

      Compared with women in states with the most restrictive reproductive rights policies, women living in the least restrictive states had a 7% lower low birth weight risk (adjusted RR=0.93, 95% CI=0.88, 0.99). In particular, low birth weight risk was 8% lower among Black women living in the least restrictive states than among their counterparts living in the most restrictive states (adjusted RR=0.92, 95% CI=0.86, 0.99). In addition, low birth weight risk was 6% lower among U.S.-born Black women living in the least restrictive states than among those living in the most restrictive states, but this was marginally significant (adjusted RR=0.94, 95% CI=0.89, 1.00). No other significant associations were found for race–nativity-stratified models.

      Conclusions

      Women living in states with fewer restrictions related to reproductive rights have lower rates of low birth weight, especially for Black women.
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