Group Prenatal Care Beneficial for Young Mothers, Infants

Scaling nationally could lead to significant improvements in outcomes, disparities, costs

pregnancy

TUESDAY, Dec. 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Young mothers and infants could receive significant health benefits from group prenatal care, according to research published online Dec. 21 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Jeannette Ickovics, Ph.D., of the Yale University School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues compared outcomes among pregnant teens and women at 14 health centers in New York City who received either group prenatal care or traditional individual care. Participants were aged 14 to 21 and lived in low-income areas, but had no other known pregnancy health risks. The groups included eight to 12 women.

Compared to those who received individual care, women in group prenatal care were 33 percent less likely to have infants who were small for gestational age. They also had a lower risk of preterm delivery or a low-birth-weight infant, and their infants spent less time in the neonatal intensive care unit. The researchers also found that women in group prenatal care were more likely to wait an appropriate time before becoming pregnant again, reducing the risk that their next baby will be born prematurely. The more group prenatal care sessions pregnant women attended, the lower the risk of birth complications.

"Few clinical interventions have had an impact on birth outcomes," Ickovics said in a university news release. "Group prenatal care is related to improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, without adding risk," she said. "If scaled nationally, group prenatal care could lead to significant improvements in birth outcomes, health disparities, and health care costs."

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