Estimating racial health disparities among adverse birth outcomes as deviations from the population rates. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Despite significant research, the reasons for racial health disparities among adverse birth outcomes (ABO) remain largely unknown. The bulk of research into racial health disparities among ABO in the United States has concentrated on the risk of race and ethnic groups relative to the specific sub-population of non-Hispanic white women and their children. The objective of this study was to estimate the racial and ethnic risks among a set of neonatal and maternal health disparities while minimizing bias attributable to how the baseline risk was established. METHODS: All birth records were obtained from the United States Natality database for the years 2014 to 2017. A Bayesian modeling approach was used to estimate the risk disparity for disorders by race. The estimation of the race-specific risks used a sum-to-zero constraint for the race regression coefficients. RESULTS: Estimating racial health disparities relative to the overall population rate yielded novel results and identified perinatal health disparities for all the race groups studied. CONCLUSIONS: Unbiased risk estimates for racial disparities among ABO are now available for stimulating and initiating more complex causal modeling that can lead to understanding how racial health disparities for ABO are mediated and how they can be prevented.

published proceedings

  • BMC Pregnancy Childbirth

altmetric score

  • 7.33

author list (cited authors)

  • Thompson, J. A., & Suter, M. A.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Thompson, James A||Suter, Melissa A

publication date

  • January 2020