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Prenatal Care - Births to mothers who did not receive early prenatal care in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Prenatal care is medical care patients receive throughout the course of their pregnancies. Usually in the form of regular check-ups to access the overall health and development of mothers and their babies while in utero, prenatal care can be monitored by a doctor, nurse, or midwife.[1] The frequency of prenatal care visits vary by different characteristics, such as the birthing person’s age or perceived risk for complications, but typically increase as the pregnancy progresses. Prenatal care is most effective when it starts early and continues throughout the entire pregnancy to help prevent and address health problems in both mothers and babies.[2] Poor prenatal care utilization due to late onset of care, low frequency of care visits, or combinations of the two significantly increases the risks of maternal insufficient gestational weight gain, prenatal smoking, premature ruptured membranes, precipitous labor, no breastfeeding, postnatal underweight, and postpartum smoking.[3] Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are also three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.[4] Seeking early prenatal care is associated with better health outcomes for women and infants, however, notable disparities in prenatal care access persist among U.S. women, particularly among younger, less educated, geographically isolated, and racial/ethnic-minority maternal populations.[5]

[1] Planned Parenthood Federation of America. (2023). Prenatal Care.

[2] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2021). Increase The Proportion Of Pregnant Women Who Receive Early And Adequate Prenatal Care. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[3] Yan J. (2017). The Effects of Prenatal Care Utilization on Maternal Health and Health Behaviors. Health Economics, 26(8), 1001–1018.

[4] Office on Women’s Health. (2021). Prenatal Care. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.,doctors%20to%20treat%20them%20early.

[5] Krukowski, R. A., Jacobson, L. T., John, J., Kinser, P., Campbell, K., Ledoux, T., Gavin, K. L., Chiu, C. Y., Wang, J., & Kruper, A. (2022). Correlates of Early Prenatal Care Access Among U.S. Women: Data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). Maternal and Child Health Journal, 26(2), 328–341.

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Definition and Source



The number and percent of births without early prenatal care.

Data Source

Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Health Statistics and Research. Pennsylvania Vital Statistics annual report series. The Pennsylvania Department of Health specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.


Includes only those births where prenatal care status is known.  Early prenatal care occurs during the first trimester.

ND = DATA NOT DISPLAYED. Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Last Updated

May 2024