Advancing Maternal Health Lab

Our Approach: Engaged scholarship with policymakers, communities, programs and providers to reduce socioeconomic and racial/ethnic health disparities and improve health of birthing persons and their infants. 

Our research is considered “engaged scholarship”, that is we use the tools of science and partner with providers, communities and policymakers to create new knowledge that drives innovation in “real world” settings to improve health care—and ultimately the health and life chances of low income birthing persons and infants. We work in multi-disciplinary research teams with collaborators in epidemiology, economics, psychology and human development and other disciplines. We have developed a longitudinal linked data set (vital records, Medicaid claims, and Medicaid program data) that includes all Medicaid births from 2008 to present that, with appropriate data use agreements with the Michigan Department of Community Health, can be used to support research.

Our program of research targets the health and health care of Medicaid-insured pregnant and postpartum persons; many of whom live in difficult life circumstances, experience racism, have a higher prevalence of depressive disorders, and are more likely to have chronic health conditions and health risk behaviors. They are also more likely to have limited access to care, face health literacy barriers when they do seek care, and given their competing family priorities, have difficulty participating in health care. Their infants are more likely to be born preterm and/or at low birth weight, with long term consequences for school success. This is especially true for Black birthing persons and infants, who have more than double the rates of adverse birth outcomes and infant mortality. We focus our research on interventions and programs that are designed to improve health care and health outcomes for these vulnerable populations.