How Poverty Affects Prenatal Care & Low Birthweight
Research shows that low-income women are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care. Research also has linked children born into poverty with low birthweight.
Why It Matters
Lack of prenatal care is linked to nutritional deficiencies for mother and baby, as well as adverse outcomes for the baby, including premature birth.
Babies born at low birthweight face six to 10 times the risk of infant mortality and are at increased risk of long-term disabilities, including mental retardation, chronic respiratory problems, cerebral palsy, childhood psychiatric disorders, autism, and hearing and vision impairments.
How Children Are Faring
Infants Whose Mothers Received Prenatal Care in the First Trimester, 2009
Region Result California 83% Southern California Average 83% Southern California Range 54% (Imperial) – 89% (Orange)
Infants Born at Low Birthweight, 2009
Region Result California 7% Southern California Average 7% Southern California Range 5.9% (Imperial) – 7.3% (Los Angeles) See slideshow
Note: California figures and Southern California ranges are presented as reported in the original data source. Southern California averages, however, have been calculated. Specifically, population estimates for children within the same age range as the original indicator within each county, and Southern California as a whole, were used to create the weighted averages presented. See slideshow for more details about the data source.
What First 5s Are Doing
First 5 county investments begin with programs to ensure healthy births for mothers and their babies.
Los Angeles funds three major progras that work with women to improve birth outcomes: Healthy Births, Welcome Baby, and Black Infant Health. The Healthy Births Initiative supports a community based network of advocates and caregivers dedicated to preventing low birth weight and premature deliveries by enhancing perinatal and interconception care. Welcome Baby provides parent education information, primary disease prevention and referrals to community services through a series of pre-and postpartum visits. The Black Infant Program serves pregnant and parenting African American women through a group of intervention as well as complementary case management.
Home Visiting programs in Santa Barbara and Riverside provide parent education information, lactation support, screenings for maternal depression, and referrals to community services through a series of pre- and/or postpartum visits.
Ventura's Prenatal Support and Care program focuses on women who are at risk for use of substances or domestic violence during pregnancy by building capacity at public health clinics and physician offices to screen pregnant women for risk factors such as substance abuse, depression and domestic violence and to refer them for community services.
Ventura and San Diego also promotes Text4baby – a free mobile information service designed to foster maternal and child health by providing pregnant women and new mothers with timely and personalized information.
Orange provides home-based comprehensive case management services focusing on maternal and infant health and development during pregnancy and through the infant's first year and for families with toddlers. Home visitation provides breastfeeding education and support, developmental and health screenings, home safety checks, health education and referrals for further services when needed.
To address low birth weight concerns, San Bernardino Perinatal SART (Screening, Assessment, Referral and Treatment) system allows for identification of appropriate servics including supportive counseling, outpatient treatment, or residential treatment.
San Diego supports the Black Infant Health Program which provides home visitation services and other supports for pregnant women and their babies and the Adolescent and Parenting Program which provides support services to improve health outcomes for pregnant and parenting adolescents and their children.