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Doctor: ‘Disparity is quite dramatic’ in pregnant Latinas with COVID-19

Doctor: ‘Disparity is quite dramatic’ in pregnant Latinas with COVID-19
Posted at 2:31 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 14:31:24-04

Experts say language barriers, living situations, and access to healthcare are among the reasons Latinas make up most COVID-19 cases among pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collected information from 11,000 pregnant women who tested positive for the virus. Of those women, 4,500 were Latina.

Tri-State data mirrors national statistics. Dr. Amy Rule, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said at one point, 59% of mothers who were positive for COVID-19 identified as Hispanic or Latina.

“Latina mothers only make up about three to four percent of our moms giving birth in the Greater Cincinnati area, so the disparity is quite dramatic,” Rule said.

Alfonso Cornejo, president of Cincinnati’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers are not surprising.

“Hispanics are probably the only group growing in the state of Ohio, and our population is younger, and we have more kids per family,” Cornejo said.

Latinas account for most of the COVID-19 cases among pregnant women for varied reasons, including occupation, Rule said.

“Many of them are essential workers and don’t always have everything they need, whether that be PPE or sick leave,” Rule said. “They’re more likely to use public transportation.”

Cornejo said living situations could also be a contributing factor.

“They live in apartments where they are in close contact with their older brother, the spouse, you have four people in two rooms or three rooms and that also contributes to this,” Cornejo said. “The same thing with the African American group.”

This week, the number of pregnant African American mothers with COVID-19 has risen to 31%, while the number of pregnant Latinas with the virus dropped from 59% to 42%, according to Rule.

Although the number has lowered recently, the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, and the Latino Health Collaborative are launching a hospital and community-based survey on the issue.

“We want to understand more about the knowledge community members have of COVID-19 and prevention of COVID-19 and barriers they might experience in being able to practice prevention behaviors like masking or social distancing and also accessing care,” Rule said.

WCPO's Paola Suro first reported this story.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering