|About the Book|
The time that a woman recognizes her pregnancy is crucial to the eventual birth outcomes. The relationship between the time of pregnancy recognition and birth outcomes is yet to be fully explored. In addition, a woman who does not recognize her pregnancy early may not initiate prenatal care (PNC) early and may continue unhealthy behaviors throughout the pregnancy. This study examined whether the time of pregnancy recognition predicts the time of initiation of PNC, the number of prenatal visits and birth outcomes such as prematurity, low birth weight, rates of admission in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and infant mortality. The study is a secondary data analysis of the Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) multi-state data for United States from 2000-2004. The PRAMS program entails cross-sectional surveys, addressing maternal behaviors and experiences that occur before, during, and shortly after pregnancy among U.S. women of childbearing age. The analysis involved weighting of complex survey data using STATA9.2 software. Binary and multinomial logistic regressions were used for the analyses. Of the 136,373 women in the study, 72.4% recognized their pregnancy within 6 weeks. Ninety percent of the women had recognized their pregnancy by 12 weeks and 80% had initiated PNC by 12 weeks. Early pregnancy recognition is a strong predictor of early PNC initiation, and a moderate predictor of reduced premature births, reduced LBW babies and NICU admissions. Promotion of early pregnancy recognition by nurses may be effective in improving birth outcomes, if they are part of routine reproductive health care services for women of childbearing age.