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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arkansas: Medicaid Expansion States See Decline in Low-Birth-Weight for Black Infants

States that expanded Medicaid showed a significant reduction in low birth weight and preterm births for black infants, but no significant difference in those rates overall, researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health report in JAMA April 23.

The study examined 15.6 million births from 2011 to 2016 in 18 states that expanded Medicaid and 17 states that did not expand Medicaid. Researchers looked at the association between Medicaid expansion and rates of low birth weight and prematurity overall and among racial/ethnic minorities compared to non-Hispanic white infants.

Researchers looked at preterm birth, very preterm birth, low birth weight, and very low birth weight. These evaluations were made among all births, as well as among Medicaid-covered births and Medicaid-covered births to women with at most a high school diploma.

Results showed an improvement in all four outcomes for black infants in expansion states. Among black infants of mothers with at most a high school diploma, rates of very low birth weight declined 14.8 percent states and increased 5.6 percent in non-expansion states for this subgroup. These findings highlight the importance of Medicaid Expansion in reducing health disparities for black individuals.

Dr. Clare Brown, instructor in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, was lead author on the study. She completed this work for her dissertation.

Read the full release.