NJ plans help for high-risk pregnant women

A New Jersey task force has set plans to help the state roll out better education and increased access to care for at-risk pregnant women. In a new report, the Prenatal Care Task Force noted that teenage mothers, minorities, unmarried mothers and mothers with less education continue to be less likely to get early prenatal care. This is distressing given that such women are most likely to benefit from such care given their higher risk of poor birth outcomes, the task force said.

Despite concerted efforts in the 1990s to expand such access, the problem of inadequate prenatal care remains severe. According to one estimate, New Jersey was 40th among the states in the percentage of women who actually received prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy. Looked at another way, one in five women giving birth in the state didn't get first-trimester prenatal care.

Not surprisingly, the greater a woman's access to health insurance, the more likely she is to receive prenatal care in the first three months of her pregnancy. However, between 2002 and 2006, 21 percent of new months in the state lacked health insurance before pregnancy. Task force members noted that the state could address these issues going forward by focusing on reducing barriers to prenatal care specifically, including making sure that there are enough obstetricians and other related professionals to address prenatal care gaps.

To learn more about this issue in New Jersey:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer piece

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