Collaboration in Civic Spheres

King County Researchers Report Maternal Health Risk Disparities For Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders

by Matt Rosenberg March 7th, 2011

SUMMARY: According to a report recently published in a journal of the U.S. Centers For Disease Control, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in King County, Wash. have significantly higher rates of maternal obesity, smoking during pregnancy, adolescent mothers and little or no prenatal care, compared to Asians in King County. The authors of the report, from Public Health – Seattle & King County, state the findings accent the continued need to report health data for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders separate from Asians, in order to identify and quantify important concerns.

BACKGROUND: Changed federal health reporting standards in 1997 replaced the category “Äsian or Pacific Islander” with two distinct categories, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander or NHPI. For the recent report published in a journal of the federal Centers For Disease Control, researchers at Public Health – Seattle & King County compared key maternal, pregnancy and birth health indicators for Native Hawaiians versus Asians in King County from 2003 through 2008, excluding multiracial subjects who identified themselves with both categories.

KEY LINK: “Maternal, Pregnancy and Birth Characteristics of Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders – King County, Washington, 2003-2008,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers For Disease Control, February 25, 2011. Authors: E. Wong, PhD; and D. Solet, PhD; Public Health – Seattle & King County, Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in King County had significantly higher rates than Asians of maternal obesity, smoking during pregnancy, adolescent mothers, high birth weight and late or no prenatal care. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander mothers in King County also had higher rates than their Asian counterparts of being overweight and of giving birth birth prematurely.
  • The findings will help identify important health concerns for the NHPI community in King County, and underscore the continued need to measure and report public health outcomes for NHPI population separate from those of Asians.
  • Important health disparities exist for Native Hawaiians in other areas including deaths, adverse health outcomes and behaviors which increase health risks such as smoking and unhealthy weight. These data are of “high interest” but not within the scope of the current study.
  • Future research should seek to refine the results of the current report, in part by looking at year-by-year data to identify trends and also by examining comparable data for mixed race (Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) subjects so disparities can be better described and responsive programs better designed.

Fr. Maternal, Pregnancy, and Birth Characteristics of Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders - King County, Washington, 2003-2008

RELATED: “Health of Native Hawaiians And Other Pacific Islanders In King County,” Public Health – Seattle & King County, August 2008. (Includes community resources).

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