Erie Vital Signs

Availability and Utilization of Healthcare Services: Mothers Receiving Prenatal Care

Recent Performance

This trend is mixed or inconclusive.

Prenatal care can help keep pregnant mothers and their babies healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are 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. Adequate prenatal care during the first trimester is particularly important because it allows doctors to identify and treat health problems during the early stages of pregnancy.

Since 2003, the percentage of Erie County mothers who received prenatal care during the first trimester has fluctuated from a low of 70.9% in 2007 to a high of 79.2% in 2004. In 2012, it was 78.7%, which was higher than Pennsylvania’s value of 72.4%. Historically, the annual percentages of first trimester prenatal care in both Blacks and Hispanics were considerably lower than those observed in Whites.

Note: Much of the data for the Health Indicators come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. Each metro area decides whether or not to participate each year, so these indicators often do not have data for every year for every metro area. As a result, the graphs show markers (dots, diamonds, etc.) for the individual years rather than lines. If there are data for consecutive years, the markers will be joined with a line on the graphs.

The Basics

This indicator reports the percentage of live births to mothers who had prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Why is this important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, reports of approximately 500 women who died as a result of a pregnancy-related complication are received by the Division of Reproductive Health at CDC. There are probably up to 500 additional such deaths that are not identified as being caused by pregnancy.

In 1999, on average there were seven infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Differences in race and socioeconomic conditions can result in much higher incidences of infant mortality. The leading causes of infant death were congenital anomalies and low birthweight - two conditions that can be considerably impacted by prenatal care.

In order to have the best possible outcome for mother and child, early prenatal care is essential. Even before a woman conceives, she can be given folic acid, checked for immunity to rubella and blood type, as well as advised about smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating a healthy diet. Once a woman is pregnant, prenatal visits to a healthcare provider will include examinations to determine the health of the mother and developing fetus.

The Details

“The Basics” tells the story.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator reports subcategories based on race/ethnicity with the following breakdowns: All races, White, Black, and Hispanic (of any race).

Peer Areas

The data are available for Erie County and the state of Pennsylvania.


There are annual updates of this EVS indicator as well as three-year summary updates in Erie County Department of Health reports.


Other Related Data

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