Women living in states with less restrictive reproductive rights are less likely to give birth to low-birth weight babies, according to a UCLA study released Tuesday.

The study, published in the December 2020 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that mothers, particularly U.S.-born Black women, giving birth in states with less restrictive reproductive rights policies have a 7% lower risk of low-birth weight babies, compared to women in states with more restrictive policies.

“Our study provides evidence that reproductive rights policies play a critical role in advancing maternal and child health equity,” said May Sudhinaraset, associate professor of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Department of Community Health Sciences. “Addressing the adverse consequences of structural racism requires examination of the historical and present-day policies that negatively affect women of color.”

The study, conducted by researchers at UCLA and the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, analyzed birth record data for the nearly 4 million births that occurred in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2016 to assess the associations between reproductive rights policies and adverse birth outcomes.

The investigators, including Jessica D. Gipson, associate professor of the UCLA Fielding School’s Department of Community Health Sciences, and Marta Bornstein, a doctoral student at the Fielding School and the UCLA California Center for Population Research, further evaluated if the associations were different for women of color and immigrants.

“This study shines the light on the effect of reproductive rights policies, and the broader social context in which these policies are created and implemented, on women’s bodies and the lives and well-being of our children,” Gipson said. “It is critical that we continue to assess the negative impacts of restrictive reproductive rights policies, while also identifying supportive policies and programs for women, and particularly Black women, to achieve optimal health for this and for the next generation.”

The full article is available at linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S074937972030372X.

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