Every other week, The Chronicle of Social Change features one key indicator from Kidsdata, which offers comprehensive data about the health and well being of children across California.
This week, we look at the rate at which mothers access prenatal care in their first trimester. High quality care during those three months greatly reduces the risk of infant mortality and other adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, developmental delays, and premature birth.
In 2012, 84 percent of California infants were born to mothers who received prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy. This figure has held relatively steady in recent years, though it is down from a high of 87 percent in 2003.
At the county level, the percentage of infants whose mothers receive timely prenatal care ranges widely, from 52 percent to 94 percent. The highest rates of prenatal care came from Southern California and Bay Area counties.
This puts California ahead of the national goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The department, as part of its Healthy People 2020 campaign, set an objective that by the year 2020, 77.9 percent of pregnant women would receive prenatal care beginning in the first trimester.
One major data collector on youth and families – Kids Count, a data center funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation – tallies the percentage of births to mothers who report no prenatal care or care only in the third trimester.
Six percent of births occurred among women in this higher-risk group in 2012, according to Kids Count; in California, it is only three percent.
The Kids Count data suggests that a significant number of births occur among mothers who access care in the second trimester, a middle distance of sorts between an identified protective factor on one side and a risk factor on the other. If only three percent of California births fell into this risk group, then about 13 percent of births occurred among women during the second trimester.
John Kelly is the editor of The Chronicle of Social Change.