Prenatal Care: Wise or Wasteful?

Award Year:
John Lantos, Diane Lauderdale
Maternal and Child Health
What exactly is prenatal care and why doesn't it seem to work? After two decades of investment, advocacy, and research, more women are getting prenatal care than ever and rates of preterm birth continue to rise. Co-investigators John Lantos, M.D. and Diane S. Lauderdale, Ph.D. reject the traditional view of prenatal care as a preventive intervention that prevents preterm birth. Instead, prenatal care may work primarily by detecting problems early in pregnancy, increasing the need for obstetrical intervention, and increasing the rate of preterm birth. Better neonatal care for preterm babies then allows better infant survival. In Prenatal Care: Wise or Wasteful?, Lantos and Lauderdale review the recent history of health policies aimed at pregnant women, analyze data on shifting risk factors, and reconsider the goals of prenatal care and their bioethical implications. Their study should help policymakers better understand what prenatal care can achieve and how it might be improved.