Timely Prenatal Care
Receiving early and continuous prenatal care throughout pregnancy
has been linked to improved pregnancy and health outcomes for mother
and child. The proportion of mothers beginning prenatal care in
the first trimester improved again to 83.7 percent in 2002.
In the last decade, the rate of women beginning prenatal care in
the first trimester has risen steadily (by 10 percent) overall and
substantially among racial and ethnic minorities. The proportion
of non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and American Indian women receiving
early prenatal care increased by 20 percent or more between 1990
and 2000. Although gains have occurred across all racial groups,
racial disparities persist. On average, 88.6 percent of non-Hispanic
White women, compared to 76.7 percent of Hispanic women and 75.2
percent of non-Hispanic Black women, began prenatal care in the
first trimester in 2002.
A woman’s age is also related to prenatal care initiation.
Women younger than 20 years of age were much less likely than older
women to begin prenatal care in the first trimester, although rates
of early entry into care have increased in this age group.
Late or No Prenatal Care
The percentage of pregnant women beginning prenatal care in the
third trimester or going without prenatal care decreased slightly
to 3.6 percent in 2002. Regardless of age, Black and Hispanic women
were over twice as likely as White women to receive late or no prenatal
Other risk factors for not using prenatal care included being
younger than 20 years old, being unmarried, and having low educational