Alternative prenatal care interventions to alleviate Black-White maternal/infant health disparities

Crystal Adams, Shameka Poetry Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper attempts to forward the maternal health literature that critiques standard prenatal care in the United States by drawing on intersectionality, medicalization, and fundamental causation theories. We argue that these theories deepen our understanding of the maternal health experiences of Black women and can help explain why alternative prenatal care interventions have value for Black pregnant women. Alternative models of prenatal care, which include the use of midwives, doulas, and group prenatal care, are associated with equal or better health outcomes for infants and mothers compared to the standard prenatal model in the United States. We begin by drawing on these sociological perspectives to identify gaps in the maternal health literature that is critical of standard biomedical maternal health approaches. We then go on to describe select alternative methods of prenatal care and then provide a summary of the epidemiological literature as it relates to sociodemographic trends in usage and the relative effectiveness of alternative models compared to standard care. We conclude by arguing that a joint, critical application of these three theories can help scholars explain the utility of alternative interventions for African American maternal/infant health and can inform policies that aim to alleviate Black-White maternal/infant health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSociology Compass
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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