STATUS > SPECIAL POPULATIONS
Women along the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border—within
100 kilometers, or 62 miles of the border—face many health
disparities. More than one-third of families in the border region
of the U.S. have incomes at or below the Federal poverty level.
Because this population is likely to lack health insurance, access
to health care is an important issue in this region. Approximately
one-third of U.S. border residents reside in areas designated as
Health Professional Shortage Areas for primary care.
The quality of the air, water, and soil in the border region is
another area of concern that can particularly affect the health
of women (especially women of childbearing age) and children. Many
households in the region are not connected to sources of clean water.
The high level of industry and agriculture creates exposure to potentially
harmful pesticides and other chemicals. Although there are few sources
of data on these problems, the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission
has among its objectives to reduce the proportion of households
without complete bathroom facilities—in 2000, 1.1 percent
of households on the U.S. side of the border had no complete bathroom
facilities—and to reduce the number of hospitalizations as
a result of pesticide poisoning.
In 2000, women in the U.S. border region averaged 2.5 children during
their reproductive years, which is greater than the U.S. national
average of 2.1. Despite the greater number of children born on the
border, only 73.2 percent of women who gave birth received prenatal
care during the first trimester, and only 64 percent received adequate
care with regard to timing and number of prenatal visits compared
to 83.2 percent in the U.S. as a whole during the same year.
Infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis A, and hepatitis
B, are also more prevalent in the border region than in the general
U.S. population. In 2000, the incidence of tuberculosis in the border
region was 10.0 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 6.0 per 100,000
people nationally. The rate of hepatitis A was 11.0 cases per 100,000
people in the border region, compared to 4.9 nationally, and the
rate of hepatitis B was 6.3 cases per 100,000 persons, in the border
region compared to 2.9 nationally.