January 31, 2020

Maternal and child health research

Maternal and child health is an active area of study for Kaiser Permanente research. We have published nearly 1,000 articles on the topic since 2007.

This brief summarizes the contributions of Kaiser Permanente Research since 2007 on the topic of maternal and child health, including pre-pregnancy risk factors and a variety of risks and outcomes occurring both during and following childbirth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4 million babies are born in the United States each year.1 Although most babies are healthy and born without complications, pregnancy carries risks for both mothers and infants, and high-quality care during the prenatal period is essential for ensuring positive perinatal and postnatal health outcomes. Many women have underlying health problems that may present challenges during pregnancy. Approximately half of women who become pregnant are overweight or obese,2 and conditions such as diabetes and chronic hypertension are present in 1% to 2% of women at the time of conception.3 Moreover, recent data suggest that approximately 7% of pregnant women smoke,1 and more than 10% consume alcohol.4 In addition, 8.5% of pregnant women report recent use of illicit drugs, with increasingly common use of marijuana and opioids in particular.5 During pregnancy, approximately 2% to 10% of pregnant women experience gestational diabetes,6,7 and rates of both postpartum hemorrhage and hypertension have increased dramatically in recent years.8 Finally, about 10% of births in the U.S. are preterm, and over 8% are low-birthweight babies. Preterm and low-weight births are each associated with serious long-term health consequences, including developmental delay, breathing problems, and infant mortality

Publications related to maternal and child health since 2007

990 Journal Articles, 29,000 Citations (1), 136 Practice Guideline References (b), 133 Clinical Decision Aid References (c)

Source: Kaiser Permanente Publications Library and PLUM metrics, as of July 24, 2019.

a. Number of citing journal articles, according to Scopus.
b. Number of references in PubMed guidelines.
c. Citations in DynaMed Plus, a point-of-care clinical reference tool.

Maternal and child health is an active area of study for Kaiser Permanente Research. Scientists across the organization have used our rich, comprehensive, longitudinal data to advance knowledge in the areas of understanding risk, improving patient outcomes, and translating research findings into policy and practice. We have published nearly 1,000 articles related to maternal and child health since 2007;9 together, these articles have been cited almost 30,000  together, these articles have been cited almost 30,000 times. These articles are the product of observational studies, randomized con­trolled trials, meta-analyses, and other studies led by Kaiser Permanente scientists. Our unique environment — a fully integrated care and coverage model in which our research scientists, clinicians, medical groups, and health plan leaders collaborate — lets us contribute generalizable knowledge on maternal and child health, and many other topics of research.



  1. Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, et al. Births: Final Data for 2017. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2018;67(8):1-50.
  2. Branum AM, Kirmeyer SE, Gregory EC. Prepregnancy Body Mass Index by Maternal Characteristics and State: Data From the Birth Certificate, 2014. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2016;65(6):1-11.
  3. Bateman BT, Bansil P, Hernandez-Diaz S, et al. Prevalence, trends, and outcomes of chronic hypertension: a nationwide sample of delivery admissions. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012;206(2):134.e131-138.
  4. Tan CH, Denny CH, Cheal NE, et al. Alcohol use and binge drinking among women of childbearing age - United States, 2011-2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(37):1042-1046.
  5. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration;2018.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gestational Diabetes: What is it? 2017.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gestational Diabetes. 2019; https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data on Selected Pregnancy Complications in the United States. 2019; https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-complications-data.htm. Accessed June 3, 2019.
  9. KPPL Search, conducted on June 24, 2019: ((subject:”Maternal Health” OR subject:”Maternal Welfare” OR subject: “prenatal care” OR subject:”Pregnancy, Unplanned” OR subject:”Pregnancy” OR subject:”Pregnancy Trimester, First” OR subject:”Pregnancy Trimester, Second” OR subject:”Pregnancy Trimester, Third” OR subject:”Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular” OR subject:”Pregnancy Complications” OR subject:”Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced” OR subject:”Eclampsia” OR subject:”Pre-Eclampsia” OR subject:”Maternal Death” OR subject:”Gravidity” OR subject:”Labor, Obstetric” OR subject:”Labor onset” OR subject:”Labor Presentation” OR subject:”Maternal-Fetal Exchange” OR subject:”Parity” OR subject:”Trial of Labor” OR subject:”Uterine Contraction” OR subject:”Placentation” OR subject:”Pregnancy in Adolescence” OR subject:”Pregnancy Maintenance” OR subject:”Cervical Ripening” OR subject:”Corpus Luteum Maintenance” OR subject:”Superfetation” OR subject:”Pregnancy, Unwanted” OR subject:”Diabetes, Gestational” OR subject:”Chorea Gravidarum” OR subject:”Fetal Macrosomia” OR subject:”Fetal death” OR subject:”Fetal resorption” OR subject:”stillbirth” OR subject:”Fetal Diseases” OR subject:”Chorioamnionitis” OR subject:”Echogenic Bowel” OR subject:”Erythroblastosis, Fetal” OR subject:”Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders” OR subject:”Fetal Growth Retardation” OR subject:”Fetal Hypoxia” OR subject:”Fetal Macrosomia” OR subject:”Fetal Nutrition Disorders” OR subject:”Meconium Aspiration Syndrome” OR subject:”Nuchal Cord” OR subject:”Pyelectasis” OR subject:”Amniotic Fluid” OR subject:”Fetal Blood” OR subject:”Fetal heart” OR subject:”Meconium” OR subject:”fetus” OR subject:”Umbilical Cord” OR subject:” Umbilical Arteries” OR subject:” Umbilical Veins” OR subject:”Abortion, Induced” OR subject:”Abortion, Spontaneous” OR subject:”Abortion, Habitual” OR subject:”Abortion, Incomplete” OR subject:”Abortion, Missed” OR subject:”abortion, Septic” OR subject: “Obstetric Labor Complications” OR subject:”Depression, Postpartum” OR subject:”Postpartum Period” OR subject:”peripartum Period” OR subject:”postnatal care” OR subject:”Birth Weight” OR subject:”premature Birth” OR subject:”Pregnancy Outcome” OR subject:”Cesarean Section” OR subject:”Infant, Low Birth Weight” OR subject:”Infant, Small for Gestational Age” OR subject:”Infant, Very Low Birth Weight” OR subject:”Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight” OR subject:”Infant, Newborn, Diseases” OR subject:”Anemia, Neonatal” OR subject:”Fetofetal Transfusion” OR subject:”Fetomaternal Transfusion” OR subject:”Asphyxia Neonatorum” OR subject:”Birth Injuries” OR subject:”colic” OR subject:”Epilepsy, Benign Neonatal”)) OR (subject:”Kernicterus” OR subject:”Hernia, Umbilical” OR subject:”Hydrophthalmos” OR subject:”Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal” OR subject:”Jaundice, Neonatal “ OR subject:”Ichthyosis” OR subject:”Ichthyosiform Erythroderma, Congenital “ OR subject:”Ichthyosis Bullosa of Siemens” OR subject:”Ichthyosis, X-Linked” OR subject:”Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome” OR subject:”Infant, Premature, Diseases” OR subject:”Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia” OR subject:”Leukomalacia, Periventricular” OR subject:”Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn “ OR subject:”Retinopathy of Prematurity “ OR subject:”Meconium Aspiration Syndrome” OR subject:”Mobius Syndrome” OR subject:”Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome” OR subject:”Neonatal Sepsis” OR subject:”Nurseries, Hospital” OR subject:”Nurseries” OR subject:”Nystagmus, Congenital” OR subject:”Persistent Fetal Circulation Syndrome” OR subject:”Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome” OR subject:”Sclerema Neonatorum” OR subject:”Severe Combined Immunodeficiency” OR subject:”X-Linked Combined Immunodeficiency Diseases” OR subject:”Syphilis, Congenital” OR subject:”Thanatophoric Dysplasia” OR subject:”Thrombocytopenia, Neonatal Alloimmune” OR subject:”Toxoplasmosis, Congenital” OR subject:”Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding” OR subject:”Wolman Disease” OR subject:”Parturition” OR subject:” Vernix Caseosa” OR subject:”Breast Feeding” OR subject:”Breast Milk Expression” OR subject:”Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena” OR subject:”Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena” OR subject:”Milk, Human” OR subject:”Milk Banks” OR subject:”Bottle Feeding” OR subject:”Infant Equipment” OR subject:”Vaginal Birth after Cesarean” OR subject:”Delivery, Obstetric” OR subject:”Cesarean Section” OR subject:”Cesarean Section, Repeat” OR subject:”Episiotomy” OR subject:”Extraction, Obstetrical” OR subject:”Vacuum Extraction, Obstetrical” OR subject:”Labor, Induced” OR subject:”Amniotomy” OR subject:”Version, Fetal” OR subject:”Puerperal” OR subject:”prenatal diagnosis” OR subject:”Genetic Diseases, Inborn” OR subject:”neonatal screening” OR subject:”Amniocentesis” OR subject:”Chorionic Villi Sampling” OR subject:”Fetoscopy” OR subject:”Maternal Serum Screening Tests” OR subject:”Ultrasonography, Prenatal” OR subReferences January 2020 Kaiser Permanente Research Brief: Maternal and Child Health — 9 — ject:”Diagnostic Techniques, Obstetrical and Gynecological” OR subject:”Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects” OR subject:”Prenatal Injuries” OR subject:”Maternal Exposure” OR ((subject:”infant, newborn” OR subject:infant) NOT (subject:child OR subject:adolescent)) OR (title:newborn* OR (title: fetus OR foetus) OR Tite:Periconceptional OR (title: “maternal exposure”~6 ) OR (title: “In-utero exposure”~6 ) OR (title: “Birth Weight”~6 ) OR Title: “Premature birth” OR Title: “Preterm birth” OR Title:”Early development” OR Title: Prepregnant OR Title:Birthweight OR Title: Gestation OR Title: Breastfeeding OR Title:”breast milk” OR title:pregnan*)) AND type:”journal article” AND dateIssued:[2007 2019].