Costs of postpartum care: examining associations from the Ontario mother and infant survey.
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A cross-sectional survey of 1,250 mothers of "normal" newborn infants was conducted to assess mother and infant characteristics as well as the costs of health and social services used in the first 4 weeks after discharge from hospital in the province of Ontario, Canada. Each mother was asked to recall use of services for herself and her infant. This utilization was multiplied by the unit cost of each service and summed to arrive at the total cost of services used. Although re-admission rates were low (1% for mothers, 4% for infants), costs associated with hospital and emergency room care ($194 on average per mother/infant dyad) accounted for the greatest proportion of total health-care costs. Physician or midwife visits, which were received by almost all mothers, were the next most costly service ($128 on average per dyad). Mothers with incomes under $20,000 had more medical costs than those with higher incomes. Costs of community nursing care ($86 on average per dyad) were higher for mothers with more than 5 self-identified learning needs (e.g., infant feeding, infant care and behaviour, emotional changes in self, signs of illness in infant); perception of their own health as poor; perception of inadequate help and support at home; many signs and symptoms of depression; and postpartum hospital stay of 48 hours or less. Costs for social work visits were higher for mothers with depression and mothers with low incomes. Total health and social service costs were double for mothers with family incomes under $20,000 ($788 vs. $399 on average per dyad) and for mothers with clinical depression ($845 vs. $413). Specifically, nursing care costs were greater for mothers with high depression scores ($135 vs. $81).
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