Hypertensive disease in pregnancy: An examination of ethnic differences and the Hispanic paradox

Abstract. OBJECTIVE: The “Hispanic paradox” refers to the epidemiological finding that Hispanics in theUShave better health outcomes than the average population despite what their aggregate socioeconomic determinants would predict. The aim of this study was to evaluate obstetric outcomes for a multiethnic population with hypertensive diseases. METHODS:We performed a retrospective reviewof parturients with hypertensive disease delivering at Duke University Medical Center. We analyzed maternal sociodemographic characteristics and ethnic differences in hypertensive disease types using Chi Square tests. RESULTS: A total of 3,124 women delivered during a period of one year; 9% of them had hypertensive diseases in pregnancy. Gestational hypertension was more commonly diagnosed in Whites, whereas chronic hypertension and mild preeclampsia were more frequently encountered in Blacks and Hispanics respectively (Chi-square = 39.11, p < 0.001). The overall incidence of preeclampsia was less in Hispanics. However, severe preeclampsia rates were equal across groups. Hispanics were more likely to be uninsured and younger, enter prenatal care later, and least likely to complete high school. Therewas no significant difference in smoking or parity. Stratified analyses by ethnicity showed that the relationship between severe preeclampsia and comorbidities (intrauterine growth restriction, low birth weight, and need for admission to intensive care nursery) were least pronounced in Hispanics and strongest in Black women. CONCLUSION: Despite similar rates of severe preeclampsia and adverse sociodemographic characteristics, Hispanic women with severe preeclampsia had better pregnancy outcomes than Black or White women with the disease.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr. Maria Small, Box 3967 DUMC, Durham, NC 27701, USA. Tel.: +1 919 681 5220; Fax: +1 919 681 7861; E-mail: maria.small@duke.edu.