Access to early and regular prenatal care has a direct effect on the health outcomes of both mothers and infants. Babies born to mothers who have not had prenatal care have more health problems (e.g., preterm delivery, low birth weight babies) than babies born to mothers receiving adequate and regular prenatal care. Mothers who have not had regular prenatal care also have more health problems during and after delivery. Providing adequate and regular care to expecting mothers can save both mother and child’s lives.
Many women still do not receive adequate prenatal care due to lack of insurance or insufficient health insurance. Undocumented residents of Tennessee who are expectant mothers often do not seek prenatal care due to fears about deportation. Mothers living in rural areas often do not have local hospital obstetrics units.
Factors contributing to inadequate prenatal care:
i Tennessee State Health Ranking, 2004. Prenatal Care. America’s Health: State Health. Rankings- 2004 Edition. United Health Foundations. Cited June 20, 2005. Available from
ii 2002 Birth Record Data (based on Kotelchuck Index), Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Policy Planning and Assessment, Division of Health Statistics. Cited March 17, 2004.
The Tennessee Department of Health is committed to educating communities about prenatal care. The Department has a number of services that work with communities and families to support prenatal care. Below is a list and description of services offered through the Department or your local county health department.
Prenatal Care Program: Basic prenatal care services are provided at all local health department clinics and include pregnancy testing, education, presumptive eligibility and TennCare enrollment, referral for WIC and referral for obstetric medical management. Selected counties across the state provide full service obstetrical care for pregnant women. For more information, call your local health department or call (615) 741-7353.
Perinatal Regionalization: The perinatal regionalization program was established to provide for the diagnosis and treatment of certain life-threatening conditions of pregnant women and newborn infants. The five regional perinatal centers across the state have made this specialized care available by providing a statewide mechanism to health care providers for consultation and referral of high risk patients; transport of these patients, if necessary; personnel skilled in high risk perinatal care; post-graduate education for physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel; and site visits to local hospitals. For more information, call (615) 741-7353.
Help Us Grow (HUG): Help Us Grow (HUG) program staff assist pregnant women, postpartum women for up to two years and infants and children up to age six in gaining access to medical, social, and educational services. HUG services are available in all 95 counties. For more information, call your local health department or call (615) 741-0329.
Child Health and Development (CHAD): CHAD is available in 41 counties for pregnant women and children ages birth to six. CHAD helps prevent or reduce abuse, neglect and developmental delays by providing parent support and education services. For more information, call your local health department or call (615) 741-0329.