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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 care.

Other risk factors for not using prenatal care included being younger than 20 years old, being unmarried, and having low educational attainment.

Graphs: Mothers Beginning Prenatal Care in the First Trimester[d]


Graphs: Mothers Receiving Late or No Prenatal Care[d]