NOWHERE TO GO: MATERNITY CARE DESERTS ACROSS THE U.S. (2020 REPORT)

In the U.S., 7 million women of childbearing age live where there is no or limited access to maternity care.

In our 2020 report, Nowhere to Go: Maternity Care Deserts Across the U.S., we shine a light on the unequal access to maternity care found throughout the U.S. and highlight current research and its impact on mom and baby health. Access to quality maternity care is a critical component of maternal health and positive birth outcomes, especially in light of the high rates of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity in the U.S.

Maternity care deserts are counties in which access to maternity health care services is limited or absent, either through lack of services or barriers to a woman’s ability to access that care. Our report, published with the support of partners at RB’s Enfa portfolio of brands, our partner in the Better Starts for All pilot initiative, describes the maternity care desert status of all U.S. counties based on the most recent data on the availability of hospitals, birth centers, health care providers and health insurance.

To learn more, read the full 2020 report

MATERNITY CARE DESERT
HOSPITALS
OB PROVIDERS
HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE

Key findings of the report include:

More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in maternity care deserts (1,095 counties) that have no hospital offering obstetric care, no birth center and no obstetric provider.

  • Among these women, 1 in 3 live in a large metropolitan area or urban setting.

  • In 2017, almost 150,000 babies were born to women living in maternity care deserts.

  • Maternity care deserts have a higher poverty rate and lower median household income than counties with access to maternity care.

An additional 4.8 million women of childbearing age live in counties with limited access to maternity care.

  • In 2017, approximately 514,000 babies were born to women living in rural areas. Only 8 percent of obstetric providers report practicing in rural areas.

Since our 2018 report, 6 percent of counties have shifted in their maternity care designation; however, only 3 percent of these counties moved toward a better designation indicating greater levels of care.