Maternal health risks increase when rent is high

Women who live in high-rent areas are more likely to experience bleeding, heart failure and other life-threatening outcomes during labor and delivery, new research in New Jersey shows.

The researchers found an even larger discrepancy for those women without a high school education with 260 life-threatening maternal health outcomes per 10,000 deliveries in New Jersey, including heart failure, kidney failure, heart attack and blood transfusions. For those with a college education, 160 women out of 10,000 faced health risks during labor and delivery.

More publicly supported affordable housing could reduce this discrepancy by mitigating the link between high rental housing costs, relative to income, and life-threatening maternal outcomes, says Felix Muchomba, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work. from Rutgers and lead author of the study. in the Journal of the Open American Medical Association Network.

The likelihood of experiencing life-threatening maternal outcomes among mothers with the least education was 8% lower if $1,000 of affordable housing was provided to those with incomes below their living poverty level. The researchers believe that such an increase in affordable housing funding would reduce the gap in poor maternal outcomes between mothers with college degrees and those with less than a high school degree by 20%.

“There is an ongoing housing affordability crisis in the US due to rising housing costs that are outpacing income growth,” Muchomba says. “The housing cost burden is disproportionately high among women of reproductive age who have low income or little education.

The researchers say the US has the highest rate of maternal mortality — that is, deaths during pregnancy, during childbirth, or shortly after delivery — among high-income countries.

“For every maternal death, hundreds more experience severe maternal morbidity, in which women experience life-threatening outcomes of labor and delivery,” Muchomba says.

In addition, severe maternal morbidity can negatively affect the health of women in the short and long term, as well as the bond between mothers and their children, negatively affecting the social and emotional development of children. Families, insurers, and the community bear substantial financial costs associated with severe maternal morbidity.

According to the researchers, the lack of affordable housing can lead to overcrowding, homelessness or housing instability. The pressure to make home payments on time can have a psychological effect, and perinatal depression or fears of losing custody can exacerbate concerns about losing home during pregnancy. Households with high housing costs also have fewer resources left for food and health care.

The researchers examined more than a million New Jersey birth records between 2008 and 2018 and linked them to mothers’ hospital discharge records within six weeks of delivery. The analysis included data from the US Census Bureau on housing costs and from the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs on the number of publicly supported affordable housing units.

This study was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policy for Action program. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Source: Rutgers University

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