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Emergency Preparedness and Response: Pregnant Women and Newborns

The United States has averaged 58 major federally declared disasters annually in the past 15 years. In this time period, each state and US territory has experienced a disaster. Nearly 850,000 people in the United States are affected by natural disaster yearly. However, that number does not include those affected by man-made events or pandemic diseases such as influenza.

Disasters disrupt people’s lives, families, and communities. Disasters can affect access to needed medical and social services, increase stress, intensify physical work, and expand caregiving duties. Any of these effects may result in poor health outcomes among women of reproductive age, especially pregnant women.

Pregnant women are classified as "at-risk individuals" in the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. The needs of pregnant women are also stressed by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) programs emergency preparedness and response activities in the Special Medical Needs: Definitions and Related Terms [PDF - 468KB].

Are you ready for an emergency?

Research studies conducted after disasters in the United States have shown that pregnant women may have increased medical risks such as blood pressure disorders or anemia. Also, their infants may experience health issues such as low birth weight, shorter length, preterm birth, or smaller head size. 

CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) has a history of preparing for and responding to the needs of women and infants before, during, and after disaster events. This includes working in settings where disasters have occurred and developing emergency care information for pregnant women and their health care providers.



Newborns in nursery. Information for Pregnant Women and New Mothers

CDC developed a factsheet to help pregnant women and women with infants or young children in planning for an emergency or disaster. Partners across CDC have also compiled critical all-hazards preparedness information for pregnant women and new mothers.

Physician. Information for Healthcare Providers

CDC created a Web resource for non-obstetric health care providers in caring for pregnant women during disasters.


Crisis Ahead. Understanding the Impact of Disasters on Reproductive Health

Working with local, state, and federal partners, CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health developed the following tools to assess the post-disaster reproductive health outcomes of women aged 15–44 years:


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