National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Health Behaviors and Infant Health Outcomes in Homeless Pregnant Women in the United States

Richards, R.,
Merrill, R. M.,
Baksh, L.
Year Published: 2011
Journal Article
AA Publications
American Journal of Public Health 101(9) 2011
AA Publications

These authors examined maternal health behaviors before, during, and after pregnancy and infant health outcomes among homeless women in the United States. They used data from 31 states participating in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System from 2000 to 2007. Responses were weighted to be representative of all women who gave birth in each state during that year. Four percent of women reported homelessness within 12 months before pregnancy, with the highest percentage in Illinois, followed by Oregon and Washington. Homeless women were younger, unmarried, uninsured, less educated, less likely to initiate and sustain breastfeeding, and had less prenatal care and well-visits than women who were not homeless. They were also more likely to be black, Hispanic, smoke cigarettes, be underweight or have class III obesity, and not take preconception multivitamins. Infants of homeless women had lower birth weights, a longer hospital stay, and were more likely to receive neonatal intensive care. The authors provide recommendations on ways to improve the health of homeless mothers and infants. Modified Author Abstract.

Correspondence to: Rickelle Richards, PhD, MPH, RD, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science, Brigham Young University, S-233 ESC, Provo, UT 84602. E-mail:
Publication available on the Internet for a fee