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Maternal Child Health Research

Maternal Child Health Research

The Evaluation & Analytics Department is also involved in multiple research projects with a primary focus on health disparities. We are currently working on two funded research projects and have several publications in peer-reviewed journals and manuscripts being developed for publication.

NIH Maternal Health Challenge Award:

Dr. McFarland’s proposal, “Can It Happen to Me? Developing a Maternal Morbidity Risk Prediction Tool,” seeks to develop a data-driven tool to identify maternal risk factors and pregnancy outcomes. The study will include all claims data for pregnant people in New Jersey who had a live birth or fetal death between 2017 and 2021. The researchers will determine the rates of severe maternal morbidity in New Jersey by race and ethnicity and investigate the influences of individual and community factors on severe maternal morbidity and mortality. The team will develop and validate a pre-pregnancy maternal morbidity risk algorithm to stratify people by levels of risk based on the complex medical conditions that can impact health during and after pregnancy. This study may aid development of specific interventions for populations at higher risk.

Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, Interdisciplinary Population Health Data Grant:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impacts on the health and well-being of millions of New Jersey residents through direct exposure to the virus, the loss of loved ones, and the seemingly ubiquitous life strains of the “COVID Era.” In a recent study of provisional vital statistics data for births occurring in the central region of New Jersey published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal (McFarland et al., 2021), our research team demonstrated that rates of postpartum depressive symptoms were higher during the pandemic than pre-pandemic levels. In an effort to extend this work, we are applying for funding to link New Jersey birth, mortality, hospital, and communicable disease data to formally assess whether adverse birth outcomes (rates of low birth weight, infant mortality, and fetal loss) vary according to direct and vicarious exposure to COVID-19. We would also like compare adverse birth outcomes for the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods overall, by race, and by regional COVID-19 transmission rates. With these aims in mind, we would like to address four research questions. First, do direct and vicarious exposures to COVID-19 increase the risk of adverse birth outcomes? Second, did overall rates of adverse outcomes rise during the pandemic? Third, did rates of adverse birth outcomes rise in the subpopulations of black and white women? Finally, were pre-pandemic and pandemic trends in adverse birth outcomes more pronounced in the regions with the highest COVID-19 transmission rates?

Peer Reviewed Publications:

Michael McFarland, Cheryl A. S. McFarland, Kyleigh Moniz, and Lauren Manley. (Forthcoming). Racial Slurs by Police and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms: Intrusive Policing and Perceived Injustice. Journal of Urban Health.

Maayan Simckes, Dale Willits, Michael McFarland, Cheryl A. S. McFarland, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, and Anjum Hajat (2021). The Adverse Effects of Policing on Population Health: A Conceptual Model. Social Science and Medicine. 281:114163.

Michael McFarland, Cheryl A. S. McFarland, and Terrence Hill (2021). Postpartum Depressive Symptoms during the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Examination of Population Birth Data from Central New Jersey. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 25: 353-359.

Aldina M. Hovde, Cheryl A.S McFarland*, G. Melissa Garcia, Fran Gallagher, Harry Gewanter, Marisa Klein-Gitelman, and L. Nandini Moorthy. 2021. Multi-pronged approach to enhance education of children and adolescents with lupus, caregivers, and healthcare providers in New Jersey: Needs assessment, evaluation, and development of educational materials. Lupus 30, no. 1: 86-95. (Co-first authors, listed alphabetically)

Michael McFarland, Amanda Geller, and Cheryl A. S. McFarland (2019). Police Contact and Health among Urban Adolescents: The Role of Perceived Injustice. Social Science and Medicine. 238: 112487.

Michael McFarland, John Taylor, Cheryl A. S. McFarland, and Katherine Friedman. 2018. Perceived Unfair Treatment by Police, Race, and Telomere Length: A Nashville Community-based Sample of Black and White Men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 4:585-600.

Michael McFarland, John Taylor, and Cheryl A. S. McFarland. 2018. Weighed Down by Discriminatory Policing: Perceived Unfair Treatment and Black-White Disparities in Waist Circumference. Social Science and Medicine: Population Health, 5:210-217.

Shin Kim, Marie Bailey, Jaylan Richardson, Cheryl A. S. McFarland, Sabrina Luke, Andrea Sharma, and William Sappenfield. 2018. Gestational weight loss: Comparison between the birth certificate and the medical record, Florida, 2012. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 23(2):148-154.

Cheryl A. Smith and Michael McFarland. 2015. “Race and Ethnicity, Forgiveness, and Health.” In Forgiveness and Health: Scientific Evidence and Theories Relating Forgiveness to Better Health, edited by Loren Toussaint, Everett Worthington, and David R. Williams. Springer Publishing.

Cheryl A. Smith and Michael McFarland. 2014. “Segregation and Infant Well-Being.” In the Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research, edited by Alex C. Michalos. Springer Publishing.

Michael J. McFarland, Cheryl A. Smith, Loren Toussaint, and Patricia Thomas. 2012. “The Relationship between Forgiveness of Others and Health: Do Race and Neighborhood Matter?” Journal of Gerontology: Social Science, 67:66-75.

Michael J. McFarland and Cheryl A. Smith. 2011. “Segregation and Racial Differences in Infant Well Being: A Study of U.S. Metropolitan Areas.” Population Research and Policy Review, 30:467- 493.