September 25, 2020

Many Women Still Receive Little or No Prenatal Care Before Giving Birth

Statistics on women who receive late or no prenatal care in the United States

Nearly a quarter million women in the United States gave birth in 2018 without having received any prenatal care — or getting it only at the very end of their pregnancies. This figure has basically held steady for the past three years for which data are available, and underlying information reflects troubling racial and ethnic disparities.

The share of births associated with late or no prenatal care was 6% in 2016, 2017 and 2018; the total number for 2018 was 229,622, according to an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Here’s how that figure breaks down by race and ethnicity:

  • American Indian women were least likely to have received prenatal care in 2018, with 12% of births resulting from pregnancies unaccompanied by such care.
  • Black (10%), Hispanic or Latino (8%) and multiracial (7%) births tied to little or no prenatal care also exceeded the national average.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander births associated with little or no prenatal care (6%) aligned with the national average. Only 4% of non-Hispanic white births fell into this category.

State-by-state data are also available, although data are suppressed for certain racial or ethnic groups in some states because the number of live births was too small for statistical analysis. Across all races and ethnicities, the highest percentages of births tied to little or no prenatal care were seen in Hawaii (11%), New Mexico (11%) and Texas (10%), and the lowest figures were in Rhode Island (2%) and Vermont (2%).

A healthy start is essential for children in order for them to thrive. The Annie E. Casey Foundation offers a range of resources on early childhood and well-being.