The "Hispanic paradox": an investigation of racial disparity in pregnancy outcomes at a tertiary care medical center. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine racial disparities and the "Hispanic paradox" in pregnancy outcomes at a tertiary-care medical center. STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional study of pregnancy events was performed with information from the Duke University birth database. The latter includes data on birth outcomes, cost, and health services factors. The final sample included 10,755 women with Medicaid insurance, who gave birth during calendar years 1994-2004. Pregnancy comorbidities and outcome measures were identified by International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare racial/ethnic groups. RESULTS: African-American women were younger and more likely to be employed, to have a medical comorbidity, to remain in the hospital for >4 days, and to have hospital charges of >$7500. African-American women had higher rates of preterm birth, small-for-gestational-age infants, preeclampsia, and stillbirths. There were no differences by race for gestational diabetes mellitus. With the use of white women as the reference group, Hispanic women had lower odds for preterm birth (odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.54-0.80), and African-American women had greater odds for preeclampsia (odds ratio, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.07-1.58) and small-for-gestational-age infants (odds ratio, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.29-2.36). With the use of African-American women as the reference, Hispanic women were less likely than African-American women to experience any adverse pregnancy event, with the exception of gestational diabetes mellitus. CONCLUSION: Poverty and insurance status does not explain differences in adverse pregnancy outcomes between African-American women and Hispanic women with Medicaid insurance.

published proceedings

  • Am J Obstet Gynecol

author list (cited authors)

  • Brown, H. L., Chireau, M. V., Jallah, Y., & Howard, D.

citation count

  • 103

complete list of authors

  • Brown, Haywood L||Chireau, Monique V||Jallah, Yhenneko||Howard, Daniel

publication date

  • January 2007