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More Than Interpreters Needed: The Specialized Care of the Immigrant Pregnant Patient

Pimentel, Verónica Maria MD, MS*†; Eckardt, Melody Joy MD, MPH

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: August 2014 - Volume 69 - Issue 8 - p 490–500
doi: 10.1097/OGX.0000000000000099
CME Articles

The immigrant pregnant woman faces unique challenges. This article provides an overview of these challenges and interventions to maximize health outcomes for the immigrant pregnant woman. A patient’s immigrant status may impact her social stability and access to health care. Lack of familiarity with western health care, health financing, and the English language can create significant barriers. In addition, providers must remember to evaluate the immigrant pregnant woman for underlying health conditions that may be present including infectious diseases endemic to their country of origin and chronic diseases or cervical center as yet unidentified because of lack of previous health care screening. Female genital modification found in some immigrant populations can be associated with poorer obstetric outcomes and should be documented and addressed. Finally, some immigrant populations have a high incidence of past severe trauma and need additional psychiatric evaluation and support.

Target Audience Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians

Learning Objectives After completing this CME activity, physicians should be better able to compare different immigrant legal statuses and determine how they affect health vulnerability; examine the challenges of access to health care and health literacy for some immigrant populations; evaluate immigrant pregnant women for other unique health issues including infectious diseases; examine the patient with female genital modification for psychological and physical consequences of female genital modification and anticipate the potential impact on obstetric outcomes; as well as analyze the impact of trauma on the lives and health of the immigrant patient.

*Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY; †Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY; ‡Director of Women’s Refugee Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA

All authors and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interests in, any commercial organizations pertaining to this educational activity.

Correspondence requests to: Melody Joy Eckardt, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Boston Medical Center, 85 East Concord Street, Suite 6616, Boston, MA. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.