Obstetric Access and the Community Health Imperative for Rural Women

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Abstract

This study examined whether the closure of several inpatient obstetric units in rural New Hampshire affected birth outcomes. It is a secondary analysis of birth certificate data from 2005 through 2012 and includes 5881 births. There were no changes in perinatal outcomes. When examining outcomes based on distance travelled to place of birth, controlling for closures, women who traveled greater than 30 miles had fewer prenatal visits and lower birth weight and gestational age infants. Community services that provide prenatal care and/or home visiting are even more important when obstetric units are not available in the community.

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