The association of race and ethnicity with severe maternal morbidity among individuals diagnosed with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy

Academic Article


  • Objective: To examine racial disparities in severe maternal morbidity in patients with hypertensive disorder of pregnancy (HDP). Study Design: Secondary analysis of an observational study of 115,502 patients who had a live birth at ≥ 20 weeks in 25 hospitals in the US, 2008-2011. Only patients with HDP were included in this analysis. Race and ethnicity were categorized as non-Hispanic White (NHW), non-Hispanic Black (NHB) and Hispanic. Associations were estimated between race and ethnicity and the primary outcome of severe maternal morbidity, defined as any of the following: blood transfusion ≥4 units, unexpected surgical procedure, need for a ventilator ≥ 12 hours, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, or failure of ≥ 1 organ system, were estimated by unadjusted logistic and multivariable backward logistic regressions. Multivariable models were run classifying HDP into 3 levels: 1) gestational hypertension; 2) preeclampsia (mild, severe or superimposed); and 3) eclampsia or HELLP. Results: A total of 9,612 individuals with HDP were included. The frequency of the primary outcome, composite severe maternal morbidity, was higher in NHB patients compared with that in NHW or Hispanic patients (11.8% vs. 4.5% in NHW and 4.8% in Hispanic, p<0.001). This was driven by a higher frequency of blood transfusions and ICU admissions among NHB individuals. After adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical factors, hospital site, and the severity of HDP, the odds ratios of composite severe maternal morbidity did not differ between the groups (adjusted OR 1.26, 95% CI 0.95, 1.67 for NHB and adjusted OR 1.29, 95% CI 0.94, 1.77 for Hispanic, compared to NHW patients). Conclusion: NHB patients with HDP had higher rates of the composite maternal morbidity compared with NHW, driven mainly by higher frequencies of blood transfusions and ICU admissions. However, once severity and other confounding factors were taken into account, the differences did not persist.
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  • Palatnik A; McGee P; Bailit JL; Wapner RJ; Varner MW; Thorp JM; Caritis SN; Prasad M; Tita ATN; Saade GR