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Sixty percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women live in metropolitan areas. Most are not eligible for health care provided by the federal Indian Health Service (IHS). The IHS partly funds 34 Urban Indian Health Organizations, which vary in size and services. Some are small informational and referral sites that are limited even in the scope of outpatient services provided. Compared with other urban populations, urban American Indian and Alaska Native women have higher rates of teenaged pregnancy, late or no prenatal care, and alcohol and tobacco use in pregnancy. Their infants have higher rates of preterm birth, mortality, and sudden infant death syndrome than infants in the general population. Barriers to care experienced by American Indian and Alaska Native women should be addressed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages Fellows to be aware of the risk profile of their urban American Indian and Alaska Native patients and understand that they often are not eligible for IHS coverage and may need assistance in gaining access to other forms of coverage. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends that Fellows encourage their federal legislators to support adequate funding for the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, permanently authorized as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Citation

Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Women's Health, Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women. Committee opinion no. 515: Health care for urban American Indian and Alaska Native women. Obstetrics and gynecology. 2012 Jan;119(1):201-5

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PMID: 22183240

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