Prenatal Care

Percentage of births for which prenatal care began in the first trimester

  • New Jersey State Health Assessment
  • Natality Data, National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics
Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure prenatal care?

Adequate prenatal care helps prevent complications throughout pregnancy, is linked to a longer gestation period, and reduces the likelihood that a child will be born at a low birthweight.1-3 Up to half of pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented with recommended prenatal care services that range from screening for birth defects to advice on pregnancy.4

Unfortunately, the women who are at highest risk of experiencing problems related to childbirth are often the least likely to receive adequate prenatal care.5 These women are often non-White, younger, less educated, unmarried, and/or unintentionally pregnant.2 Black women, for example, are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care compared to non-Black women.4

How do we measure prenatal care?

This metric includes any birth for which prenatal care began in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• Prenatal care helps determine whether pregnant mothers can access care early during their pregnancies. Early initiation of care allows clinicians to identify risk factors for poor birth outcomes and facilitates intervention as needed.

• The prenatal care metric does not take into consideration different cultural perceptions and expectations of pregnancy and prenatal care.

• The prenatal care metric evaluates when care was initiated, not the quality or frequency of care during pregnancy.


Prenatal care is calculated by the following formula:

Prenatal Care Calculation

Prenatal care represents one component of the Kotelchuck Index.8 For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Documentation.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from Natality Data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions

Years of Collection

Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2020, 3 year estimate.


1. Stringer M, Ratcliffe SJ, Evans EC, Brown LP. The cost of prenatal care attendance and pregnancy outcomes in low-income working women. Journal of obstetric, gynecologic, and neonatal nursing : JOGNN. Sep-Oct 2005;34(5):551-60. doi:10.1177/0884217505280276

2. Wally MK, Huber LRB, Issel LM, Thompson ME. The Association Between Preconception Care Receipt and the Timeliness and Adequacy of Prenatal Care: An Examination of Multistate Data from Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) 2009-2011. Maternal and child health journal. Jul 27 2017;doi:10.1007/s10995-017-2352-6

3. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What is prenatal care and why is it important? National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Updated January 31, 2017. Accessed January 12, 2018,

4. Gadson A, Akpovi E, Mehta PK. Exploring the social determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in prenatal care utilization and maternal outcome. Seminars in Perinatology. 2017/08/01/ 2017;41(5):308-317. doi:

5. Till SR, Everetts D, Haas DM. Incentives for increasing prenatal care use by women in order to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Dec 15 2015;(12):Cd009916. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009916.pub2

6. Higginbottom GM, Hadziabdic E, Yohani S, Paton P. Immigrant women's experience of maternity services in Canada: a meta-ethnography. Midwifery. May 2014;30(5):544-59. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2013.06.004

7. Kotelchuck M. An evaluation of the Kessner Adequacy of Prenatal Care Index and a proposed Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization Index. Am J Public Health. Sep 1994;84(9):1414-20.

Last updated: July 26, 2023