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Postpartum acute care utilization among women with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Brown HK, Cobigo V, Lunsky Y, Vigod S. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017; 26(4):329-37. Epub 2017 Jan 24.


Background — Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities have high rates of pregnancy complications. However, their postpartum health is largely unknown. We compared risks for postpartum hospital admissions and emergency department visits among women with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Methods — We conducted a population-based study using linked Ontario (Canada) health and social services administrative data to identify singleton live births to women with (N = 3,803) and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (N = 378,313) (2002-2012). Outcomes were hospital admissions and emergency department visits in the 42 days following delivery discharge. We classified these as medical or psychiatric depending on the recorded primary discharge diagnosis.

Results — Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities, compared to those without, had increased risk for postpartum hospital admissions overall (2.4% vs. 1.2%; adjusted hazard ratios [aHR]: 1.76, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.43-2.17) and for psychiatric reasons (0.8% vs. 0.1%; aHR: 10.46, 95% CI: 6.96-15.70), but not for medical reasons. They also had increased risk for postpartum emergency department visits overall (16.6% vs. 7.9%; aHR: 1.85, 95% CI: 1.71-2.01) and for both medical (15.8% vs. 7.8%; aHR: 1.80, 95% CI: 1.66-1.96) and psychiatric reasons (1.3% vs. 0.1%; aHR: 5.66, 95% CI: 4.17-7.69).

Conclusions — High rates of postpartum hospital admissions and emergency department visits among women with intellectual and developmental disabilities demonstrate that this group may be vulnerable to acute complications or inadequate preventive care after childbirth. Providing enhanced health services during the postpartum period, in the form of longer or more frequent visits or specialized supports, could optimize their outcomes following delivery.

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