Health Behaviors and Infant Health Outcomes in Homeless Pregnant Women in The United States

Rickelle Richards, Ray M. Merrill, and Laurie Baksh

August 2011

The objective of this study is to describe select demographics, maternal health behaviors before, during, and after pregnancy, and infant health outcomes among homeless women in the United States. Analyses are based on Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data from 31 participating states from 2000 to 2007 that were linked to birth certificate data containing demographic and medical information collected through the state's vital records system.  The study found that four percent of women reported being homeless within 12 months before pregnancy, with the highest percentage in Illinois, followed by Oregon and Washington.  Homeless women were younger, unmarried, uninsured, less educated, less likely to initiate and sustain breastfeeding, and had less prenatal care and well-visits. They were also more likely to be black, Hispanic, smoke cigarettes, be underweight or have class III obesity, and not take preconception multivitamins. Infants had lower birth weights, a longer hospital stay, and were more likely to receive neonatal intensive care. 

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