Undocumented immigrant mothers who seek prenatal care have healthier babies, according to a new study out of Oregon Health And Science University.

It may not be a surprise that more care translates into better health. But lead researcher Maria Rodriguez said Friday it wasn’t immediately obvious that undocumented women would always seek health care. In some cases, women may avoid hospitals if they they are worried about deportation.

Rodriguez and her team tracked the health of about 200,000 Oregon women and their children over 12 years as they were covered under the Childern’s Health Insurance Program.

Prenatal Care Infographic

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The study found the undocumented women were 74 percent more likely to get an ultrasound, 61 percent more likely to get a diabetes screening and 19 percent more likely to vaccinate.

“It’s quite a lot of states that don’t have this coverage for women,” she said. “When we think about what that means for infant mortality and well being, that’s a significant inequity.”

In part, the study examined Oregon’s decision to expand insurance coverage in 2008 to women who are living in the country without documentation.

Rodriquez and the other researchers found undocumented women had about seven more prenatal care visits when the funding was available.

Federal funding for CHIP expired this month. But a bill to reauthorize it is scheduled for a vote this week.

The study was published in this month’s edition of Obstetrics and Gynecology