Pregnant in Kansas? New health report shows issues women may face

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FILE – In this Aug. 7, 2018 file photo, a doctor performs an ultrasound scan on a pregnant woman at a hospital in Chicago. A new study released Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, suggests when a pregnant woman breathes in air pollution, it can travel beyond her lungs to the placenta that guards her fetus. During pregnancy, particle pollution is linked to premature births and low birth weight, but scientists don’t understand why. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)

TOPEKA (KSNW) — State health officials have been researching issues that affect pregnant women and new mothers in Kansas. They interviewed women in the months following the birth of their infant.

The answers are compiled in the Kansas Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the most recent data is for 2019.

Some notable findings from the 2019 Kansas PRAMS survey include:

  • Nearly 1 in 8 mothers who went for prenatal care (12.1%) reported not receiving prenatal care when they wanted it. Among those who either did not get prenatal care when they wanted it or did not have any prenatal care, the most frequently reported barriers were that they couldn’t get an appointment when they wanted one (36.4%), and that they didn’t know they were pregnant (32.5%).
  • More than 1 in 6 mothers (16.9%) had smoked cigarettes in the 3 months before pregnancy. Among those who smoked 3 months before pregnancy and went for prenatal care, 79.4% reported that a healthcare worker had advised during a prenatal care visit that they quit smoking.
  • More than 1 in 8 mothers (13.8%) reported that there was a time after their infant was born that they thought they needed treatment or counseling for depression but did not get it.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 mothers (72.1%) reported breastfeeding their infants for at least 8 weeks.
  • More than 1 in 17 women (6.1%) reported having at least “a lot” of difficulty with at least one of six tasks (seeing, hearing, walking, remembering or concentrating, self-care, or communicating).

Kansas has been taking part in PRAMS for 3 years. In that time, the KDHE says reporting of prenatal care in the first trimester has increased, from 85.7% among women with a live birth in 2017 to 90.0% among women with a live birth in 2019.

But the KDHE says it is seeing disparities in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

For instance, non-Hispanic Black women and Hispanic women with a live birth in 2017-2019 had a lower prevalence of self-reported first-trimester prenatal care compared to non-Hispanic White women.

“This report reveals many gaps that still need to be addressed,” said Dr. Farah Ahmed, KDHE, in a statement. “For instance, we continue to see many women reporting needing counseling for depression after having a baby and not receiving it. We also see missed opportunities to advise all pregnant women who smoke to quit smoking during prenatal care visits.”

For more information about the PRAMS project in Kansas, visit: kdheks.gov/prams.

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