Pregnant Women and Recent Mothers

pregnant-women-mainThere were about 6.5 million pregnancies in the United States. The highest pregnancy rates are to women aged 20-29 years. It is estimated that about half of the pregnancies in the United States are mistimed or unwanted. About 48% of these “unintended” pregnancies end in live-birth, about 43% in legal induced abortion, and about 10% in miscarriage. There is disagreement about the percentage of pregnancies that end in miscarriage, with estimates ranging from 10-40% of all pregnancies. Miscarriages are not uniformly documented, in part because some women may have undetected miscarriages very early in pregnancy and thus never seek care.

Women who intend to carry their pregnancies to term are generally healthy and their pregnancies result in healthy infants. However, the following are some health issues related to pregnancy that public health professionals address.

Maternal Health: Risk factors are associated with health conditions and procedures. Health conditions include gestational diabetes, hypertension, too little or too much pregnancy weight gain, anemia, infections, and mental health conditions. Procedures that affect maternal and infant health include early inductions of labor after 37 weeks (about 8% of all births) and c-section deliveries (about 33% of all births).

Birth Outcomes: About 12% of all births are born too early (preterm), about 8% are low birth-weight (associated with preterm births), and perhaps 1 in 33 infants is born with some kind of birth defect/congenital anomaly.

Information and resources about the preconception and pregnancy periods can be found at the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University.

Data about births can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Vital Statistics System.

Data about pregnancies, births, and abortions can be found at the Guttmacher Institute.

Data about postpartum health can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System(PRAMS).

Data about general reproductive health and birth experiences can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) surveillance site.