Prenatal care and the low birth weight infant

K. J. Leveno, F. G. Cunningham, M. L. Roark, S. D. Nelson, M. L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


In this study the authors assessed human and economic consequences of low birth weight linked to the lack of prenatal care for indigent women. Low birth weight infants were defined as those who weighed between 860 and 2220 g, corresponding to the 50th percentiles at 26 and 34 weeks' gestation. Women seeking prenatal care had a significantly decreased incidence of low birth weight infants compared with those without such care. Concomitantly, low birth weight infants born to women with prenatal care had significantly better perinatal survival as well as less frequent respiratory distress and intraventricular hemorrhage. Because of these factors, infants born to clinic mothers used fewer neonatal intensive care days and had shorter hospitalizations. Hospital costs were reviewed for 175 surviving infants and failure to obtain prenatal care was associated with a 50% increase in costs for each infant. The frequencies of the most common pregnancy complications in women with and without prenatal care, coupled with corresponding obstetric interventions, suggest that such care facilitates identification and management of women at risk for delivery of low birth weight infants. The authors conclude that there are important human and economic advantages of antenatal care for indigent women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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