Incarceration and Subsequent Pregnancy Loss: Exploration of Sexually Transmitted Infections as Mediating Pathways

Joy D. Scheidell, Typhanye V. Dyer, Andrea K. Knittel, Ellen C. Caniglia, Lorna E. Thorpe, Andrea B. Troxel, Carl W. Lejuez, Maria R. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Incarceration is linked to risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI) postrelease among women. There has been little examination of incarceration's association with related sexual and reproductive outcomes such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and pregnancy loss, or the role of STI in this relationship and whether these relationships differ between Black and White women. Methods: Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, we examined cross-sectional associations between incarceration (Wave IV; 2007-2008; ages 24-34) and history of STI and PID (n = 5,968), and longitudinal associations between incarceration and later pregnancy loss in mid-adulthood (Wave V; 2016-2018; ages 34-43) among women who had ever been pregnant (n = 2,353); we estimated racial differences. Using causal mediation, we explored whether STI mediated associations with pregnancy loss. Results: Incarceration was associated with a history of STI (White adjusted prevalence ratio [APR]: 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14-2.06; Black APR: 1.26, 95% CI 1.02-1.56); the association between incarceration and PID was null among White women (APR: 0.99, 95% CI 0.47-2.09) and elevated among Black women (APR: 2.82, 95% CI 1.36-5.83). Prior incarceration did not appear associated with pregnancy loss among White women (APR: 1.01, 95% CI 0.70-1.45), but was associated among Black women (APR: 1.38, 95% CI: 0.97-1.97), with STI appearing to partially mediate. Conclusions: Pregnancy loss may be elevated among Black women who have been incarcerated, and incarceration-related increases in STI may account for some of this association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-251
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • epidemiology
  • reproductive health
  • sexually transmitted infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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