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
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.