Women of color continue to show worse overall health outcomes, less access to health care, and larger socioeconomic disparities than white women. A new study documents the persistence of health inequalities for women of color across 25 different indicators. The study examined inequities on a state-by-state basis and specifically focused on the challenges faced by women in the health care system. While each racial/ethnic group had its own particular set of challenges, American Indian/Alaska Native women showed the largest health and socioeconomic disparities. Hispanic women consistently faced problems with access to and use of health care, and African American women consistently had higher rates of overall health problems. Even in states where the disparities were smaller, the study indicated this occurred only because all of the state’s women were doing poorly. Hopefully this will be the year we see real health reform.
Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities on the Map, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, http://www.kff.org
/minorityhealth/upload/7886.pdf , June 2009
A new study shows that women can reduce the length of their first stage of labor by as much as an hour by walking and remaining upright (e.g. sitting, standing, kneeling, squatting, etc.) rather than lying down. Women who spent the first stages of labor in upright positions were also less likely to get an epidural. A study that examined data from 21 different studies with 3,706 women, noted other adverse effects of lying down, regardless of the position in which the women lay, including weakening contractions and reducing blood flow. Conversely, upright positions increased the blood flow to the woman’s uterus and placenta and increased contractions’ strength. More research needs to be conducted on how to improve labor for women, but this is a step in the right direction. Women should to be allowed to labor in ways that are best for their bodies instead of ways that are easiest for the medical establishment.
Maternal positions and mobility during firs stage labour. The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2009.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a vaginal infection that affects nearly 1 in 3 reproductive-aged women, is associated with a number of gynecological conditions and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Women at high risk for BV are also at-risk of having a pre-term birth. It appears that maternal Vitamin D deficiency is linked with having a BV infection in the first trimester of pregnancy. African American women are at high risk for BV, which may be because they are also at-risk for having a Vitamin D deficiency. Individuals absorb Vitamin D from sunlight, supplements, or certain foods. African American women’s dietary and supplemental intake of Vitamin D is lower than national recommendations, however, and their darker skin pigmentation makes it harder to for them to get casual Vitamin D exposure from sunlight. The study specifically looked at low-income, pregnant women and indicated that the likelihood of BV decreased once Vitamin D status became sufficient.
Maternal Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated with Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) during the First Trimester of Pregnancy, The Journal of Nutrition, June 1, 2009