Pregnancy Outcomes in US Prisons, 2016–2017
Carolyn Sufrin MD, PhD, Lauren Beal MPH, Jennifer Clarke MD, MPH, Rachel Jones PhD, and William D. Mosher PhD
Published online: March 21, 2019
Objectives. To collect national data on pregnancy frequencies and outcomes among women in US state and federal prisons.
Methods. From 2016 to 2017, we prospectively collected 12 months of pregnancy statistics from a geographically diverse sample of 22 state prison systems and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Prisons reported numbers of pregnant women, births, miscarriages, abortions, and other outcomes.
Results. Overall, 1396 pregnant women were admitted to prisons; 3.8% of newly admitted women and 0.6% of all women were pregnant in December 2016. There were 753 live births (92% of outcomes), 46 miscarriages (6%), 11 abortions (1%), 4 stillbirths (0.5%), 3 newborn deaths, and no maternal deaths. Six percent of live births were preterm and 30% were cesarean deliveries. Distributions of outcomes varied by state.
Conclusions. Our study showed that the majority of prison pregnancies ended in live births or miscarriages. Our findings can enable policymakers, researchers, and public health practitioners to optimize health outcomes for incarcerated pregnant women and their newborns, whose health has broad sociopolitical implications. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 21, 2019: e1–e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305006)