Interactions between race/ethnicity, poverty status, and pregnancy cardio-metabolic diseases in prediction of postpartum cardio-metabolic health

Kharah M. Ross, Christine Guardino, Christine Dunkel Schetter, Calvin J. Hobel

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Prenatal health disparities exist for African Americans and low socioeconomic status (SES) individuals when compared to non-Hispanic Whites and people of higher SES, particularly in cardio-metabolic diseases. Furthermore, having had a pregnancy-specific cardio-metabolic disease, e.g. preeclampsia, increases risk for future cardio-metabolic disease. Although these factors (race, SES and pregnancy cardio-metabolic disease) are interrelated, studies have rarely considered their combined effect on postpartum cardio-metabolic risk. The purpose of this study was to assess whether SES, race/ethnicity, and prenatal cardio-metabolic disease interact in the prediction of postpartum cardio-metabolic risk. Methods: A sample of 1,753 low-income women of African American, Latina, non-Hispanic White race/ethnicity was recruited after a birth in 5 US sites. Household income was used to categorize poverty status as Poor (< Federal Poverty Level; FPL), near poor (100–200% FPL), or low/middle income (> 200% FPL). Three prenatal cardio-metabolic disease diagnoses (preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes) were identified from medical records. Four biomarkers (mean arterial pressure, glycosylated haemoglobin, total cholesterol:HDL ratio, and waist-hip ratio) were collected at 6 and 12 months postpartum, and combined into an average postpartum cardio-metabolic risk index. Maternal age, pre-pregnancy body mass index, parity, health behaviors and employment status were covariates. Results: Analyses revealed interactions of race/ethnicity, poverty status, and prenatal cardio-metabolic diseases in the prediction of postpartum cardio-metabolic risk. African American women had higher postpartum cardio-metabolic risk, which was exacerbated following a prenatal cardio-metabolic disease. Low/middle income African American women had higher cardio-metabolic risk compared to poor African American, and all Latina and White women. Conclusions: African American women, and especially those who experienced pregnancy complications, emerged as vulnerable, and greater household income did not appear to confer protection against worse postpartum cardio-metabolic risk for this group. These results highlight the complex interplay between socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity with respect to understanding health disparities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1160
Number of pages16
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov. 2020


  • Pregnancy
  • cardio-metabolic risk
  • gestational diabetes
  • gestational hypertension
  • postpartum
  • poverty
  • pre-eclampsia
  • race/ethnicity
  • widening health disparities


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