Prenatal Care

PRENATAL CARE

With more than 11,000 births each day in the United States, childbirth is the most common reason for hospital admission.

Childbirth and reproductive care are the most common reasons for women of childbearing age to use health care services. Given that birth outcomes may have lifetime effects, good prenatal care affects the Nation’s future health and health care needs. Prenatal care is expected to maintain and improve the health of both mother and newborn during pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Maternal and Child Health Bureau recommends that women begin receiving prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy.

For every dollar spent on prenatal care, employers can expect savings of $3.33 for postnatal care and $4.63 in long-term morbidity costs.

What We Know

  • Prenatal care — especially care beginning in the first trimester—allows health care providers to identify and manage a woman’s risk factors and health conditions and to provide expectant parents with relevant health care advice.
  • Prenatal care reduces the likelihood of preterm birth, rehospitalizations, and outpatient care once the child is born. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimated that each low birth weight child costs an average of approximately $290 in 1998 dollars more than a higher birth weight child for inpatient medical care during the preschool years.
  • Over time, the U.S. has made slower progress than most other industrialized countries in reducing infant mortality, which can be preventable with adequate prenatal care. In U.S., the years from 1995 to 2000 alone saw a 9 percent decrease in the infant mortality rate. But between 2000 and 2006, progress slowed, and the rate dropped only slightly, from 6.9 to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Given that birth outcomes may have lifetime effects, good prenatal care has the potential to affect the Nation’s future health and health care needs.