First Trimester Prenatal Care
Births to Mothers who Received Prenatal Care in the First Trimester
What is it?
A woman’s pregnancy is divided into three trimesters and encompasses the time frame ranging from the first day of the last menstrual period to approximately 40 weeks. The first trimester, which includes week one to approximately week 12, is one of the most critical periods in a pregnancy. Prenatal care consists of medical care, education on pregnancy and childbirth, plus counseling and support.
Why is it important?
Early prenatal care can encourage healthy habits during pregnancy, help identify medical problems before they become serious and facilitate involvement with parenting support, nutrition, and other educational resources. The benefits are greatest for women at risk for poor birth outcomes including teenagers, women with less than a high school education, women with low income, and black and Hispanic women. Inadequate prenatal care often reflects a lack of access to health care resources and can contribute to nutritional deficiencies in mothers and infants, lower birth weights and infant mortality (Contra Costa County, 2003). Statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Maternal and Child Health Bureau state that babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birth weight, and five times more likely to die, than those whose mothers received prenatal care (2009).
How are we doing?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 national target for the percentage of women beginning prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy is 90% (http://www.healthypeople.gov/2010/Document/HTML/uih/uih_4.htm).
The latest national data available (2007) is based on 22 states using the 2003 revision of the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth – full implementation by all states will be phased in over several years. These states, which accounted for 53% of total U.S. births, averaged 70.8% of prenatal care in the first trimester, with non-Hispanic white women (76.2%) being more likely than non-Hispanic black (59.2%) and Hispanic (64.7%) mothers to begin prenatal care in the first trimester. These results, however, should not be projected to a national level since many states were still using the 1989 certificate of live birth in 2007 – the 1989 certificate of live birth is not comparable to the 2003 certificate (Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Sutton PD, et al. Births: Final data for 2007. National vital statistics reports; vol 58 no 24. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010).
Although historical data show that prenatal care utilization was increasing at a modest pace through 2004, data for the 2004-07 period show a slight decline.
Pinellas County Trends in First Trimester Prenatal Care
The percentage of births to Pinellas County mothers receiving prenatal care during the first trimester has been trending downward since 2004 when the Florida Department of Health changed the method of calculation. Consequently, data for 2004-2009 are not directly comparable to data prior to 2004. A description of the pre and post 2004 methods of calculation can be found at:
As chart 1 shows, there has been a fairly consistent downward trend in the percent of births to Pinellas County mothers receiving prenatal care during the first trimester among all racial and ethnic groups through 2007. In 2008, however, this trend was reversed in white and Hispanic mothers but continued trending downward for black mothers.
Comparison of Pinellas County with the State and Other Florida Counties
Trends in first trimester prenatal care observed for Pinellas County and other similarly sized counties have generally followed those of the state as a whole as shown below:
- In 2009, the percentage of births to Pinellas County mothers receiving prenatal care in the first trimester was 76.7%, slightly below the state average of 78.3%, and substantially below the Healthy people 2010 national goal of 90%.
- Palm Beach County has consistently been below that of the state and other comparable counties. However, after reaching a low of just below 68% in 2005, Palm Beach has been on an upward trend on this indicator.
Read More About It:
Prenatal Care, MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prenatalcare.html
Prenatal Care, Frequently Asked Questions, The National Women’s Health Information Center: http://womenshealth.gov/faq/prenatal-care.cfm
Preconception Care, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconception_care.cfm