Racial/Ethnic Representation in United States and Australian Obstetric Research



To describe racial/ethnic representation in United States (US) and Australian obstetric research, represented by the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network (MFMU) and Australian Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies (ARCH) trials.


MFMU studies were identified through PubMed and ARCH studies through their online publication listing from 2011 to 2016. Observational and randomized cohorts and primary and secondary data analyses were included. Studies with race-based enrollment were excluded. Racial/ethnic representation was expressed as the mean racial/ethnic percentages of the studies (i.e.,: studies weighted equally regardless of sample size). Racial/ethnic percentages in MFMU studies were compared to US registered births and ARCH compared to Australian census ancestry data.


38 MFMU studies included 580,282 women. Racial/ethnic representation (% [SD]) included White 41.7 [12.3], Hispanic 28.1 [15.4], Black 26.2 [12.3], Asian 3.6 [2.3], and American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) 0.2 [0.02]. No studies reported Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) separately. Comparatively, registered US births (%) were White 75.7, Hispanic 28.1, Black 16.1, Asian/Pacific Islander 7.1, and AI/AN 1.1, which differed from the MFMU (P = 0.02). 20 ARCH studies included 51,873 women. The most reported groups were White 76.5 [17.4], Asian 15.2 [14.8], and Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander 13.9 [30.5], compared to census numbers of White 88.7, Asian 9.4, and Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander 2.8 (P < 0.01). Two ARCH studies reported African ethnicity.


There is racial diversity in studies by MFMU and ARCH, with opportunities to increase enrollment and enhanced reporting of Asian, AI/AN, and NHOPI races in MFMU studies and Black race in ARCH studies.

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See Tables 3, 4

Table 3 Included eunice kennedy shriver national institute of child health and human development maternal-fetal medicine (MFMU) units network studies
Table 4 Included australian research centre for health of women and babies studies

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Yamasato, K., Chern, I. & Lee, MJ. Racial/Ethnic Representation in United States and Australian Obstetric Research. Matern Child Health J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-020-03099-8

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  • Pregnancy
  • Obstetric
  • Race
  • Ethnicity