A Study of Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes among African-Born Women Living in Utah
The African refugee population in many U.S. states is growing. Between fiscal years (FY) 2004 and 2013, the United States admitted about 152,000 African refugees; of these, 45 percent came from Somalia, 11 percent from Liberia, 9 percent from Sudan, 8 percent apiece from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea, and 7 percent from Burundi and Ethiopia.
Research suggests that, within countries of resettlement, complications during pregnancy, birth, and the child's early infancy can be particularly acute among resettled African refugee women. Yet health-care providers and policymakers may not be aware of the particular challenges facing African-born refugee women and their children.
This report compares the perinatal complications experienced by African-born Black women—the majority of whom are assumed to be refugees, based on their low education levels and countries of origin—with those of U.S.-born White, non-Hispanic women who gave birth in Utah between 2002 and 2008. Using data from Utah birth certificates, it identifies numerous significant differences between these two groups.
Problems such as higher levels of anemia, high blood pressure, and more premature births can have long-term negative effects on the health and development of women, children, and their families. While adequate prenatal care can offset some perinatal complications, research suggests African refugee women encounter numerous barriers to care.
VII. Policy Implications