The impact of prenatal care on postneonatal deaths in the presence and absence of antenatal high-risk conditions

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Nov;187(5):1258-62. doi: 10.1067/mob.2002.127143.


Objective: This study was undertaken to determine the association, if any, between prenatal care and postneonatal death in the presence and absence of high-risk pregnancy conditions.

Study design: Data were derived from the national linked birth/infant death data set for the years 1995 to 1997 provided by the National Center for Health Statistics. Analyses were restricted to singleton live births that occurred after 23 completed weeks of gestation. Multiple births, congenital malformations, chromosomal abnormalities, missing data on gestational age, and birth weight less than 500 g were excluded. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to adjust for various antenatal high-risk conditions, maternal age, gravidity, gestational age at delivery, birth weight, maternal education, marital status, smoking, and alcohol use. Postneonatal death rate was defined as the number of deaths between 28 and 365 days of life per 1,000 neonatal survivors.

Results: For 10,512,269 singleton live births analyzed, 21,962 (2.1 per 1,000) resulted in postneonatal death. Postneonatal death rates were higher for African American women than white women in the presence (3.8 vs 1.7 per 1,000) and absence (11.2 vs 5.3 per 1,000) of prenatal care. Lack of prenatal care was associated with increased relative risk (RR) for postneonatal death, 1.8-fold in African American women and 1.6-fold in white women. Lack of prenatal care was associated with increased postneonatal death rates to a similar degree for the individual high-risk pregnancy conditions for both African American and white women. Lack of prenatal care was associated with increased postneonatal death rates, especially in the presence of postterm pregnancy (RR 2.3, 95% CI 1.6, 3.1), pregnancy-induced hypertension (RR 2.2, 95% CI 1.5, 3.4), intrapartum fever (RR 2.1, 95% CI 1.2, 3.5), and small-for-gestational-age infant (RR 1.6, 95% CI 1.3, 2.0).

Conclusion: Lack of prenatal care should be considered as a high-risk factor for postneonatal death for both African American and white women, especially if the pregnancy has been complicated by postdates, pregnancy-induced hypertension, intrapartum fever or small-for-gestational-age infant.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / ethnology
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Risk Factors
  • Whites