General health, health conditions, and current pregnancy among U.S. women with and without chronic physical disabilities

Lisa I. Iezzoni, M.D., M.Sc., Jun Yu, M.Sc., Amy J. Wint, M.Sc., Suzanne C. Smeltzer, R.N., Ed.D., Jeffrey L. Ecker, M.D.

Disability and Health Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 2, p181–188
Published online: January 6, 2014


Although increasing numbers of reproductive-age U.S. women with chronic physical disabilities (CPD) are becoming pregnant, little is known about their general health or comorbid health conditions.


To explore general health and comorbid health conditions among women with and without CPD by current pregnancy status.


We analyzed responses of 47,629 civilian, noninstitutionalized women ages 18–49 from the 2006–2011 National Health Interview Surveys. The survey asks about: various movement difficulties; selected adult health conditions; self-reported general health; and current pregnancy. We identified women with CPD using responses from 8 movement difficulty questions.


6043 (12.7%) women report CPD. Among nondisabled women, 3.8% report current pregnancy, as do 2.0% of women with CPD. Among currently pregnant women with CPD, 29.1% report fair or poor health, compared with only 3.2% of nondisabled pregnant women. Currently pregnant women both with and without CPD are significantly less likely to report coexisting health conditions than nonpregnant women. Nonetheless, among currently pregnant women with CPD, only 24.5% report no coexisting conditions, while 28.7% report 1, 22.8% report 2, 13.2% report 3, and 10.8% report 4–6 health conditions. In a multivariable regression controlling for age category, health status, and health conditions, CPD is not statistically significantly associated with current pregnancy.


According to national survey data, it appears that pregnant women with CPD may have a complex mix of health problems and often experience fair or poor health. Better understanding the obstetrical and subspecialty needs of these women with multimorbidities requires additional investigation.