Prenatal care is an important factor in achieving a healthy pregnancy outcome. Receiving early prenatal care can help to reduce the incidence of perinatal illness, disability, and death by providing health care advice to mothers and identifying and managing any chronic or pregnancy-related risks. The percentage of mothers receiving prenatal care in their first trimester of pregnancy increased slightly from 2002 to 2003, from 83.7 percent to 84.1 percent. Overall this figure has risen 11 percent since 1990, when only 75.8 percent of women received first trimester care.

Although a positive trend was observed among most racial/ethnic groups, there are still great disparities among these groups in the likelihood of entering care early in pregnancy. In 2003, 89.0 percent of non-Hispanic White women entered care in the first trimester, followed by Asian/Pacific Islander women at 85.4 percent, Hispanic women at 77.4 percent, non-Hispanic Black women at 76.0 percent, and American Indian women at 70.9 percent. Since 1990 the total number of women receiving late or no care has dropped from 6.1 to 3.5 percent although the rate of late or no care remains high among American Indian/Alaska Native women (7.6 percent), non-Hispanic Black women (6.0 percent), and Hispanic women (5.3 percent).

Graph: Mothers Beginning Prenatal Care in the First Trimester by Race/Ethnicity[d]

Graph: Mothers Receiving Late or No Prenatal Care by Race/Ethnicity[d]