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Fewer than half of women attend recommended doctors visits after childbirth
Date:2/5/2014

Medical associations widely recommend that women visit their obstetricians and primary care doctors shortly after giving birth, but slightly fewer than half make or keep those postpartum appointments, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers.

The researchers found that women with pregnancy complications were more likely to see a doctor post-delivery, but overall, visit rates were low.

"Women need to understand the importance of a six-week visit to the obstetrician not only to address concerns and healing after delivery, but also to follow up on possible future health risks, review the pregnancy and make the transition to primary care," says Wendy Bennett, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and the lead researcher for the study, described online last week in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. "Women with pregnancy complications are at higher risk for some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and these visits are an opportunity to assess risks and refer to primary care providers to work on long-term preventive care."

Physician groups, such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, recommend women with complications like high blood pressure during pregnancy or gestational diabetes not only visit their obstetricians six weeks after a birth, but that they also see their primary care doctors within a year.

For the study, the researchers collected data from one commercial health insurance plan and multiple Medicaid insurance plans in Maryland. The aims were to determine different predictors of receiving post-delivery primary and obstetric care in women with and without pregnancy complications, including gestational or pregestational diabetes mellitus and hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia. Women with these conditions are much more likely to develop long-term health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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