Live birth, miscarriage, and abortion among U.S. women with and without disabilities

Willi Horner-Johnson, PhD, Sheetal Kulkarni-Rajasekhara, MPH, Blair G. Darney, PhD, MPH, Mekhala Dissanayake, MPH, CPH, Aaron B. Caughey, MD, PhD

Disability and Health JournalVol. 10Issue 3p382–386



Prior studies have found that women with disabilities who give birth are more likely to have preterm deliveries and low birthweight infants. However, it is not known what proportion of pregnant women with disabilities experience live birth, versus miscarriage or abortion.


To compare proportions of live birth, miscarriage, and abortion among women with basic action difficulties, women with complex activity limitations, and women without disabilities in a nationally representative sample.


We analyzed pooled Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data from Panels 1–11 (covering years 1996–2007), which included a Pregnancy Detail module assessing outcomes for women who were pregnant during panel participation. We used chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression to compare disability groups on pregnancy outcomes.


Among women with a recorded pregnancy outcome, women with disabilities were less likely to have live births (80.8% of women with basic action difficulties and 75.3% of women with complex activity limitations versus 85.0% of women without disabilities), but differences related to disability were not significant when adjusting for covariates. Women with complex activity limitations were significantly more likely to report miscarriages, even when controlling for covariates. Disability was not significantly associated with abortion in the adjusted analysis.


Our findings add to the growing literature on pregnancy outcomes among women with disabilities, providing important information about outcomes that are not reflected in delivery records. We found few differences between women with and without disabilities, and good likelihood of live birth among women with disabilities experiencing pregnancy.