Overcoming social and health inequalities among U.S. women of reproductive age - challenges to the nation's health in the 21st century.
ABSTRACT To frame the discussion of the nation's health within the context of maternal and child health.
We used national data or estimates to assess the burden of 46 determinants.
During 2002-2004, U.S. women of reproductive age experienced significant challenges from macrosocial determinants, to health care access, and to their individual health preservation. Two-thirds of women do not consume recommended levels of fruits and vegetables. Overall, 29% experienced income poverty, 16.3% were uninsured. About one in four women of reproductive age lived with poor social capital. Compared with white women of reproductive age, non-white women reported higher levels of dissatisfaction with the health care system and race-related discrimination. Among all U.S. women, chronic diseases contributed to the top nine leading causes of disability adjusted life years. About one-third of women had no prophylactic dental visits in the past year, or consumed alcohol at harmful levels and smoked tobacco. One in three women who had a child born recently did not breast feed their babies. Demographics of women who are at increased risk for the above indicators predominate among the socioeconomically disadvantaged.
At least three-fourths of the U.S. women of reproductive age were at risk for poor health of their own and their offspring. Social intermediation and health policy changes are needed to increase the benefits of available health and social sector interventions to women and thereby to their offspring.