Hilary K. Brown, Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a population-based cohort study involving all hospital singleton livebirths in Ontario, Canada, from 2003 to 2018 to examine the risk for neonatal complications among women with disability. Newborns of women with a physical, sensory, or intellectual or developmental disability or of women with two or more disabilities (144,187; 44,988; 2,207; and 8,823 newborns, respectively) were compared to 1,593,354 newborns of women without a disability.
The researchers found that newborns of women with versus without disabilities had elevated risks for neonatal complications. Newborns of women with an intellectual or developmental disability had especially high adjusted relative risks, including preterm birth <37 weeks, small for gestational age, neonatal morbidity, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and neonatal intensive care unit admission (1.37, 1.37, 1.42, 1.53, and 1.53, respectively). The relative risks were similarly elevated for newborns of women with two or more disabilities (1.48, 1.13, 1.28, 1.87, and 1.35, respectively).
“Women with disabilities may benefit from customized preconception and prenatal care, followed by tailored, family-centered supports after birth to reduce their risks,” the authors write. “Birth outcomes and the neonatal period are important predictors of lifelong health and development, indicating improved preconception, prenatal, and neonatal care are critical for this underserved population.”