Date of Award

Winter 5-5-2023

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Thesis Location

Honors College Thesis

Degree Name




Faculty Advisor

Dr. Nancy Hauff


Racial disparities in maternal and infant health have remained an issue within the United States despite efforts to advance and improve our health system. Most maternal deaths are preventable, especially with early and adequate maternal care. Infant mortality occurs for several reasons, but inadequate care usage increases the risk for adverse outcomes. Prenatal care usage within the United States has been inadequate for numerous years, most commonly among African American women, despite its known benefit. Low prenatal care usage among African American women can be attributed to community barriers, social injustices, trauma, discrimination, and health care mistrust. Trauma is common among all ages and groups within the United States, with women and girls unfairly more exposed throughout their lifetimes, yet it continues to remain an underdressed reason for avoiding medical care. It is crucial to address the racial inequalities and social barriers that exist within the United States; however, it is equally as important to address and improve providers’ delivery of care. An approach called trauma-informed care is aimed at understanding trauma and adverse childhood experiences, its overall impact on an individual, and how to avoid traumatization through healthcare delivery. Trauma-informed care provides opportunity to improve patient’s experiences with the healthcare system and ultimately increase prenatal care usage. This paper provides an overview of racial disparities in maternal and infant health, driving factors, prenatal care, and traumatic experiences, with a brief of how introducing a trauma-informed care model can address and improve perinatal outcomes among African American women.