Publication Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Academic Program

Master of Science in Clinical Investigation


Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

First Thesis Advisor

Anthony Nunes


hypertension, pregnancy, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, rural


Background: Hypertension during pregnancy is a leading cause of birthing parent mortality and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Since non-metropolitan communities face higher rates of several risk factors for hypertension in pregnancy and shortages in obstetrical services, persons residing in non-metropolitan areas may be at increased risk for adverse outcomes compared to those living in metropolitan areas. Our study objectives were to examine by county of birthing parent residence (1) the prevalence of chronic hypertension (cHTN) and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), and (2) the prevalence of adverse birthing parent and neonatal outcomes associated with hypertension.

Methods: Using U.S. birth certificate data from 2016 to 2018, we described the prevalence of cHTN and HDP and the association of each with several birthing parent and neonatal outcomes, stratified by non-metropolitan versus metropolitan county of birthing parent residence. Multivariable Poisson regression models were used to calculate adjusted prevalence ratios for birthing parent and neonatal outcomes among individuals with cHTN or HDP who lived in non-metropolitan versus metropolitan U.S. counties.

Results: The prevalence of cHTN and HDP for US live births was 2.2% and 7.4%, respectively, among non-metropolitan pregnant individuals and 1.8% and 6.6%, respectively, among metropolitan pregnant individuals. After adjusting for several sociodemographic characteristics among those with HDP, the prevalence ratio for an APGAR score < 7 at 5 minutes (aPR 1.34, 95% CI 1.29-1.38) and neonatal death (aPR 1.36, 95% CI 1.15-1.62) was increased among offspring born to women who resided in non-metropolitan counties. Similar results were seen among those with cHTN.

Conclusion: The prevalence of cHTN and HDP is modestly more prevalent in non-metropolitan areas, but most pregnancy outcomes were similar among those residing in non-metropolitan areas compared to metropolitan areas. Further research should investigate the robustness of these findings using alternate definitions of rural and urban areas and the possible link between low APGAR score, low NICU admission, and neonatal death in non-metropolitan counties.



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