A study focusing on women of childbearing age in one rural Midwest county showed 98% of participants had at least one high-priority risk factor. Regenstrief’s director of public health informatics Brian Dixon, PhD, MPA, says targeted funding is needed for this population that is underrepresented in national health data.
Women in rural communities were less likely to report use of regular contraception, meaning that they are at higher risk of having unplanned pregnancies. And so there’s a lot of concern right now about babies, the health of the baby, the health of moms. We know that in the we have a maternal mortality rate that’s too high. We know that we have an infant fatality rate that is too high, and so if we’re serious about addressing maternal morbidity, as well as the life of babies, then we need to invest more in women’s health in rural communities.
There’s structural reasons why it’s harder to reach rural populations, but if you look at a lot of national surveys that are done about healthcare, rural communities are often underrepresented in those data. We need to keep women healthy all the time. Are they taking care of themselves before they have children and in between when they’re having children, what we call preconception and interconception health of women. And so given that they’re at higher risk of becoming pregnant, that means that we do need to focus on those women and their health issues in order to keep them safe, as well as keep babies healthy.