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Prenatal Care

Narrative

Prenatal care—especially care beginning in the first trimester—allows health care providers to identify and manage a pregnant woman’s risk factors and health conditions and to provide expectant parents with relevant health care advice. In 2010, in the 33 States that had implemented the 2003 revision to the standard birth certificate as of January 1st and collected prenatal care information in the same format,1 73.1 percent of women giving birth were determined to have received prenatal care in the first trimester, while 6.2 percent of women began prenatal care in the third trimester or did not receive any prenatal care.

The timing of prenatal care initiation differs by race/ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Asian and non-Hispanic White mothers were most likely to begin prenatal care in the first trimester (78.6 and 78.3 percent, respectively) and least likely to begin prenatal care in the third trimester or not all (4.5 and 4.3 percent, respectively). The lowest rates of early prenatal care—received within the first trimester—were observed among non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native mothers (53.2 and 57.8 percent, respectively), followed by non-Hispanic Black mothers (62.5 percent). These same racial and ethnic groups also had the highest rates of receiving late (third trimester) or no prenatal care (16.7, 11.9, and 10.3 percent, respectively).

Timing of prenatal care initiation also varies by maternal education, with early prenatal care entry increasing with greater educational attainment. For example, in 2010, first trimester prenatal care was obtained by only 57.6 percent of mothers with less than a high school diploma, compared to 86.7 percent of mothers with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Conversely, only 2.5 percent of mothers with a bachelor’s degree received late or no prenatal care, compared to 11.6 percent of mothers with less than a high school diploma.

1 Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, et al. Births: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

prenatal care by maternal race graph

This image is described in the Data section.

first trimester prenatal care by maternal age graph

Data

Timing of Prenatal Care Initiation,* by Maternal Race/Ethnicity, 2010
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Mothers
First Trimester Second Trimester Third trimester
*Data are from 33 states that implemented the 2003 revision of the birth certificate as of January 1, 2010, representing 67% of all U.S. births; percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2009 Natality Public Use File. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Total 73.1 20.6 6.2
Non-Hispanic White 78.3 17.4 4.3
Non-Hispanic Black 62.5 27.3 10.3
Hispanic 67.6 24.3 8.1
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 57.8 30.2 11.9
Non-Hispanic Asian 78.6 16.9 4.5
Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 53.2 30.2 16.7
Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 70.4 22.8 6.9
Timing of Prenatal Care Initiation,* by Maternal Education, 2010
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Mothers
First Trimester Second Trimester Third Trimester
*Data are from 33 states that implemented the 2003 revision of the birth certificate as of January 1, 2010, representing 67% of all US births; percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2009 Natality Public Use File. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Total 73.1 20.6 6.2
Less than High School Diploma 57.6 30.8 11.6
High School Diploma or GED 68.1 24.6 7.3
Some College or Technical School 75.8 19.3 4.9
Bachelor's Degree or Higher 86.7 10.8 2.5