Texas is a (Maternity Care) Desert

Texas is a (Maternity Care) Desert

Maternity care deserts, or areas with limited or no access to maternal health care, are growing throughout the United States. Almost half of U.S. counties are areas where there are no providers offering maternal care.¹

“Women living in these areas are at risk for inadequate and delayed prenatal care, if they receive prenatal care at all, and therefore have an increased risk of poor birth outcomes”, explains Colleen Delaney, Ph.D, RDN, Vitamin Angels’ Technical Director for U.S. Programs. There are many contributors to this lack of access, but in Texas, the main driver is the lack of health insurance. Texas had the highest rate of uninsured women in the country in 2021, with an average of 16.8 percent of uninsured women.²


Some women have to travel over an hour to the nearest hospital, and those that don’t make it to the hospital have been reported to deliver at a rest stop or a parking lot. Staff shortages, cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, and hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients only make matters worse in Texas.³ Fortunately, some community health centers are stepping up to fill the gap and provide quality care to pregnant moms.

Houston is an oasis in the maternity care desert and home to Vitamin Angels’ program partner, Spring Branch Community Health Center (SBCHC). Spring Branch CHC is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) providing quality, affordable healthcare services to the underserved and uninsured communities in the Houston area. SBCHC, a non-profit organization, was developed to reduce disparities by creating a neighborhood-based health center and by providing comprehensive primary health care services that are culturally competent, linguistically appropriate, and client-driven in locations easily accessible by public transportation.

We follow the Community Centered Health Home model to make sure that we provide all types of resources within one location. So patients, especially expectant moms, aren’t having to hop around.

– Marlen Trujillo, CEO, SBCHC

A Vitamin Angels partner since 2014, Spring Branch CHC has grown to distribute over 1100 bottles of multiple micronutrient supplements (prenatal vitamins) annually to help support healthy pregnancies for moms and babies in Texas.

“By working to provide women throughout the US with high-impact nutrition interventions that support the healthiest pregnancies, Vitamin Angels is working to reduce disparities experienced by those living in maternity care deserts”, explains Delaney.

¹Maternity Care Deserts, 2020 Source: U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Area Health Resources Files, 2021
²U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2021