No Mom Left Behind

Births to unmarried mothers in the U.S. rose by 26 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to a new study from the CDC. Nowadays 4 out of 10 babies are born outside the traditional married-parent household.

The health implications are enormous.
Studies show that babies born to unmarried women are at higher risk for low birthweight, premature delivery and infant death. The health of the baby and mother are also dependent on available economic and social resources, which tend to be lower for this group.
Unmarried mothers now are spread throughout all population segments, so out-of-wedlock births aren't solely related to socioeconomic factors.  The largest number of them are in their early 20s, instead of their teens. Social norms have shifted.
Infant mortality is a dramatic shortfall of the U.S. healthcare system. With trends moving away from better-outcome, married-couple births, we will have to be diligent in ensuring proper prenatal care for the growing number of twenty-something moms, plus well care and immunizations for their babies.
These new family units also are likely to lack resources and place additional burden on an already overstretched public health system.
With so many demands and a mandate to reduce costs, it will be difficult to institute healthcare coverage that ensures no mom is left behind. But if our hope is to provide a better life now and for future generations, we can't afford not to do it.
—Tom DeSanto
Image: Mother Holding Baby, 1986 by Keith Haring, available at

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