Stanford study finds two-mother pregnancies face higher risk

A new Stanford University study found that childbirth is more dangerous for women whose partner is also a woman.

The March study of nearly 1.5 million births in California found that two-mother families had substantially higher rates of adverse pregnancy and birth complications, than mothers with partners who idetified as fathers.

The researchers said LGBTQ pregnant women had higher rates of life-threatening complications such as postpartum hemorrhage. They were surprised by the data and while they couldn't identify a root cause, they pointed key areas that could be contributing.

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Prior research has shown that lesbian and bisexual women have elevated rates of cardiovascular conditions, hypertension and diabetes, so the research team had expected to see higher rates of pregnancy complications related to these pre-pregnancy conditions, according to the researchers. 

The differences that persisted after accounting for pre-pregnancy disease suggested that mothers with mother partners are receiving less adequate medical care during pregnancy, and also that caregivers need much more awareness of inequities faced during pregnancy and birth by sexual and gender minorities, and how these may intersect with other types of discrimination patients may also face, scientists said.

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More research is needed to explore why differences exist and how they can be mitigated.

"There is a growing need to understand the reproductive health of sexual and gender minorities," said the study’s senior author, Juno Obedin-Maliver, MD, MAS, MPH, an assistant professor at Stanford. "More young adults identify as being in these groups than in the past, and they are now more likely to build families by giving birth."