Latinas Receive Less Prenatal Care Than Women in Other Ethinc Groups, But Give Birth to Equally Healthy Babies
Although Latinas in California are less likely to receive prenatal care than California women in most other ethnic groups, Latino infants are on the whole as healthy as or healthier than other babies, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. A new study by the University of California-Los Angeles found that Latino mothers were less likely to receive prenatal care than women in most other ethnic groups, but Latino infants were less likely to be born at low birthweight than non-Hispanic whites. The study, which evaluated births in California in 1998, also found that the infant mortality rate among Latino babies was 6%, a rate only slightly higher than that of non-Hispanic whites. Latino women were more likely to access public health insurance to cover the cost of childbirth: 58% of Latino women covered their deliveries through Medi-Cal, compared to 24.9% who used an HMO and 12% who used private health insurance. David Hayes-Bautista, study author and director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, said that although many Latino parents in the state have low incomes, low education rates and limited access to health care, these factors do not seem to affect the health of their babies. "The lower the education rate for Latinos, the less likely they are to smoke, use drugs and drink. And they're more likely to be married when they give birth," Hayes-Bautista said (Bartholomew, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/19).
Latinas also had a lower rate of births to teens. Only 15% of Latinas who gave birth in 1998 were 19 years old or younger, compared to 17% of blacks and 19% of Native Americans (Jablon, AP/Ventura County Star, 12/19). Patricia Loya, director of the Centro Legal de la Raza, a legal clinic in Oakland serving immigrant women, said that despite the positive figures, there is still a need to improve access to health care in the Latino population. Latino births outnumbered births among all other ethnic groups in California in 1998, with 47.5% of children in the state being born to Latinas. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 33.9% of births, Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 10.7% of births and African Americans represented 6.8% of all births (St. John, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/19). However, Latino births have been declining, dropping 5.9% between 1993 and 1998 (AP/Ventura County Star, 12/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.