Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. HC 3.2.a Early prenatal care

04/01/1997

Early prenatal care (i.e., care in the first trimester of a pregnancy) allows women and their health care providers to identify and, when possible, treat or correct health problems and health-compromising behaviors that can be particularly damaging during the initial stages of fetal development. Increasing the number of women who receive prenatal care, and who do so early in their pregnancies, can improve birth outcomes and lower health care costs by reducing the likelihood of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.33

The percentage of mothers receiving prenatal care in the first trimester has increased from 68.0 percent in 1970 to 81.2 percent in 1995 (see Table HC 3.2.A). Following a decade of essentially no change, the proportion of women receiving early prenatal care has improved incrementally throughout the 1990s.

Differences by Race and Ethnicity. The percentage of women receiving prenatal care during the first three months of pregnancy has increased over the past two decades for white, black, and Hispanic women.34 While the gains have been greatest for black and Hispanic women, white women are still the most likely to receive prenatal care in their first trimester (see Figure HC 3.2.A).
 

  • The percentage of black women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester increased from 44.2 percent in 1970 to 62.4 percent in 1980. Rates declined slightly to 60.6 percent in 1990, but continued to increase in subsequent years, reaching 70.3 percent by 1995.
  • The percentage of Hispanic women who receive early prenatal care has increased steadily, from 60.2 percent in 1980 to 70.4 percent by 1995.
  • The percentage of white women receiving early prenatal care increased from 72.3 percent to 79.2 percent between 1970 and 1980, was stable through the 1980s, then increased during the 1990s to 83.5 percent by 1995.

Differences by Age of Mother. Older women are more likely to receive early prenatal care than are younger women. Although there have been improvements in the receipt of early prenatal care by teenagers, this age group is consistently the least likely to receive prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Receipt of early prenatal care among women under age 15 improved considerably between 1975 and 1994, increasing from 30.9 percent to 45.7 percent.
  • The percentage of women age 35 and over who received early prenatal care also improved during this time period, increasing from 68.4 percent in 1975 to 86.2 percent by 1994.
  • More than 80 percent of mothers age 25 and older received early prenatal care throughout the 1990s.

 

Figure HC 3.2.A  
Percentage of Mothers Receiving Prenatal Carea in the First Trimester, by Race/Ethnicity,b for Selected Years 1970-1995 

HC3_2A.GIF

Notes: aThe data refer to those women who had live births.
bPercentages are based on the race and ethnicity of the mother.
cFigures for Hispanic women in 1980 are based on data from 22 States which report Hispanic origin on the birth certificate; 23 States and the District of Columbia in 1985; 48 States and the District of Columbia in 1990; 49 States and the District of Columbia in 1992; and 50 States and the District of Columbia since 1993.
dData for 1995 are preliminary.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 1995. Hyattsville, Maryland: Public Health Service. 1996. (table 7 for totals and race/ethnicity breaks for 1970-1993); 1975 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 25, No. 10, Supplement. 1976 (table 17); 1980 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 31, No. 8, Supplement. 1982 (table 20); 1985 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 36, No. 4, Supplement. 1987 (table 25); 1990 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 41, No. 9, Supplement. 1993 (tables 26 and 30); 1992 data from: Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Taffel, S.M., Mathews, T.J. and Clarke S.C. Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1992. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 43, No. 5, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1994 (tables 24 and 33); 1993 data from: Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Taffel, S.M., Mathews, T.J. and Clarke S.C. Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1993. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 3, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1995 (tables 24 and 33); 1994 data from: Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Mathews, T.J. and Clarke S.C. Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1994. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 11, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996 (tables 24 and 33). 1995 preliminary data from: Rosenberg, H.M., Ventura, S.J., Maurer, J.D., Heuser, R.L., Freedman, M.A. Births and Deaths: United States, 1995. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol 45, No. 3, Supplement 2. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996 (table A).
 
 

Table HC 3.2.A  
Percentage of Mothers Receiving Prenatal Care in the First Trimester:  Selected Years, 1970-1995a

 
   
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1992
1993
1994
1995d
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total 
68.0
72.4
76.3
76.2
75.8
77.7
78.9
80.2
81.2
 
Race/Ethnicityb,c
  White
72.3
75.8
79.2
79.3
79.2
80.8
81.8
82.8
83.5
  Black
44.2
55.5
62.4
61.5
60.6
63.9
66.0
68.3
70.3
  Hispanic
 
 
60.2
61.2
60.2
64.2
66.6
68.9
70.4
 
Age of Mother
  Under 15
 
30.9
34.5
36.0
37.9
42.9
44.8
45.7
 
  15-19
 
53.3
56.3
53.9
55.1
59.5
61.9
64.3
 
  20-24
 
73.4
74.9
71.7
68.9
71.2
72.8
74.6
 
  25-29
 
81.5
84.0
83.1
81.7
82.9
83.6
84.5
 
  30-34
 
78.9
84.4
85.5
85.3
86.4
86.9
87.7
 
  35 and older
 
68.4
76.1
81.3
83.4
84.6
85.3
86.2
 
 
Note: aThe data refer to those women who had live births.  
bPercentages are based on the race and ethnicity of the mother.  
cFigures for Hispanic women in 1980 are based on data from 22 States which report Hispanic origin on the birth certificate; 23 States and the District of Columbia in 1985;  
48 States and the District of Columbia in 1990; 49 States and the District of Columbia in 1992; and 50 States and the District of Columbia since 1993.  
dData for 1995 are preliminary.  

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 1995. Hyattsville, Maryland: Public Health Service. 1996. (table 7 for totals and race/ethnicity breaks for 1970-1993); 1975 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 25, No. 10, Supplement. 1976 (table 17); 1980 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 31, No. 8, Supplement. 1982 (table 20); 1985 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 36, No. 4, Supplement. 1987 (table 25); 1990 data from: Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 41, No. 9, Supplement. 1993 (tables 26 and 30); 1992 data from: Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Taffel, S.M., Mathews, T.J. and Clarke S.C. "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1992." Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 43, No. 5, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1994 (tables 24 and 33); 1993 data from: Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Taffel, S.M., Mathews, T.J. and Clarke S.C. "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1993." Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 3, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1995 (tables 24 and 33); 1994 data from: Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Mathews, T.J. and Clarke S.C. "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1994." Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 11, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996 (tables 24 and 33). 1995 preliminary data from: Rosenberg, H.M., Ventura, S.J., Maurer, J.D., Heuser, R.L., Freedman, M.A. "Births and Deaths: United States, 1995." Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol 45, No. 3, Supplement 2. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996  
(table A).

 

33 U.S. Public Health Service. "Caring for Our Future: The Content of Prenatal Care." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1989.as increased from 68.0 percent in 1970 to 81.2 percent in 1995 (see Table HC 3.2.A). Following a decade of essentially no change, the proportion of women receiving early prenatal care has improved incrementally throughout the 1990s.

34 This data includes only those women who gave birth, not all women who were pregnant.
 

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