Prenatal Care

Timely Prenatal Care. Prenatal care — especially care beginning in the first trimester — improves pregnancy outcomes by identifying and managing chronic and pregnancy-related conditions and providing expectant parents with relevant health care advice. The rate of first trimester prenatal care utilization has been increasing fairly steadily since the early 1990s, and in 2005, 83.9 percent of women in 37 States, Washington DC, and New York City received prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The increase in prenatal care utilization over the past 15 years has been especially remarkable among racial and ethnic groups with historically low rates of prenatal care. The proportion of non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native women receiving early prenatal care increased by 20 percent or more since 1990; however, disparities still exist. In 2005, non-Hispanic White women had the highest rates of early prenatal care utilization (88.7 percent), followed by Asian/Pacific Islander women (85.3 percent), Hispanic women (77.6 percent), and non-Hispanic Black women (76.5 percent); American Indian/Alaska Native women had the lowest rate (69.6 percent).

Late or No Prenatal Care. The percentage of women beginning prenatal care in the third trimester or going without prenatal care remained steady in 2005 at 3.5 percent. American Indian/Alaska Natives, Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic White women to receive late or no prenatal care. Risk factors for late or no prenatal care include being younger than 20 years old, being unmarried, and having low educational attainment.

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