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Increased Infant Mortality Due to Lack of Prenatal Care

Infant Mortality Due to Lack of Prenatal Care

Studies show increased infant mortality due to lack of prenatal care. Late or no prenatal care is defined by the percentage of mothers who report on their child’s birth certificate only receiving prenatal care in their third trimester or no prenatal care at all.

Through the work of advocacy groups in the 1990s, there was a significant decrease in women of all races going without prenatal care. The percentage of births where the mother received late or no prenatal care decreased by more than a third, from six to four percent, between 1989 and 2003. African American, Hispanic and Native American mothers are still more than twice as likely as white mothers to receive either late or no prenatal care.

How does prenatal care decrease the risk of infant mortality?

Prenatal care benefits both the mother and infant. During prenatal visits, physicians can monitor the health of the mother including her risk for hypertension and gestational diabetes and the health of the growing fetus. Additional value comes from the education that a health care provider may provide including:

  • nutritional and exercise advice in relation to weight gain
  • Immunizations
  • Abstaining from drugs and alcohol
  • Benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and infant
  • Preparation for the emotional challenges and risk of postpartum depression that can accompany the birth of an infant

Increased infant mortality due to lack of prenatal care

Mothers who receive late prenatal care are more likely to have babies with health problems. Mothers who do not receive any prenatal care are three times as likely to give birth to a low-weight baby and their baby has an infant mortality rate five times that of infants whose mother’s received prenatal care beginning before the third trimester. Adequacy of prenatal care – defined by the timing and frequency of care visits – is an important factor in the success of prenatal care. Adequacy has been correlated with positive birth outcomes and other benefits such as reduced risk of postpartum depression and infant injuries.

It should be noted that some health researchers are not comfortable using a lack of prenatal care as a direct cause of increased infant mortality. They point out that women who seek prenatal care are more likely to have higher incomes and intended pregnancies. In addition, prenatal care sometimes fails to address the needs of some women with specific social and medical risks.

Infant mortality and prenatal care study

A study published in July, 2012 by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health released data on the increased risk of infant mortality due to lack of prenatal care.

Researchers studied the results of 32,206,417 births over an eight-year period. They found that 11.2 percent of the expectant mothers received late or no prenatal care, skewed toward African American and Hispanic women, those less than 20 years of age and those lacking a high school education. Compared to those who received adequate prenatal care, inadequate prenatal care was associated with increased risk of:

  • Prematurity 3.75 (3.73 to 3.77),
  • Stillbirth 1.94 (1.89 to 1.99),
  • Early neonatal death 2.03 (1.97 to 2.09),
  • Late neonatal death 1.67 (1.59 to 1.76),
  • and infant death 1.79 (1.76 to 1.82).

If you lost an infant due to inadequate prenatal care, you may benefit from the help of a medical malpractice attorney. He or she may be able to prove negligence and fight for damages on your behalf.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.