Core state preconception health indicators -- Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2009
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Core state preconception health indicators -- Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2009

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  • Journal Article:
    MMWR. Surveillance summaries : Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Surveillance summaries
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    Problem/Condition: Promoting preconception health can potentially improve women's health and pregnancy outcomes. Evidence-based interventions exist to reduce many maternal behaviors and chronic conditions that are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as tobacco use, alcohol use, inadequate folic acid intake, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. The 2006 national recommendations to improve preconception health included monitoring improvements in preconception health by maximizing public health surveillance (CDC. Recommendations to improve preconception health and health care-United States: a report of the CDC/ATSDR Preconception Care Work Group and the Select Panel on Preconception Care. MMWR 2006;55[No. RR-6]).

    Reporting Period Covered: 2009 for 38 indicators; 2008 for one indicator.

    Description of Surveillance Systems: The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is an ongoing state- and population-based surveillance system designed to monitor selected self-reported maternal behaviors, conditions, and experiences that occur shortly before, during, and after pregnancy among women who deliver live-born infants. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an ongoing state-based telephone survey of noninstitutionalized adults aged ≥18 years in the United States that collects state-level data on health-related risk behaviors, chronic conditions, and preventive health services. This surveillance summary includes PRAMS data from 29 reporting areas (n = 40,388 respondents) and BRFSS data from 51 reporting areas (n = 62,875 respondents) for nonpregnant women of reproductive age (aged 18-44 years). To establish a comprehensive, nationally recognized set of indicators to be used for monitoring, evaluation, and response, a volunteer group of policy and program leaders and epidemiologists identified 45 core state preconception health indicators, of which 41 rely on PRAMS or BRFSS as data sources. This report includes 39 of the 41 core state preconception health indicators for which data are available through PRAMS or BRFSS. The two indicators from these data sources that are not described in this report are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing within a year before the most recent pregnancy and heavy drinking on at least one occasion during the preceding month. Ten preconception health domains are examined: general health status and life satisfaction, social determinants of health, health care, reproductive health and family planning, tobacco and alcohol use, nutrition and physical activity, mental health, emotional and social support, chronic conditions, and infections. Weighted prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs)for 39 indicators are presented overall and for each reporting area and stratified by age group (18-24, 25-34, and 35-44 years) and women's race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic other, and Hispanic).

    Results: This surveillance summary includes data for 39 of 41 indicators: 2009 data for 23 preconception health indicators that were monitored by PRAMS and 16 preconception health indicators that were monitored by BRFSS (one BRFSS indicator uses 2008 data). For two of the indicators that are included in this report (prepregnancy overweight or obesity and current overweight or obesity), separate measures of overweight and obesity were reported. All preconception health indicators varied by reporting area, and most indicators varied significantly by age group and race/ethnicity. Overall, 88.9% of women of reproductive age reported good, very good, or excellent general health status and life satisfaction (BRFSS). A high school/general equivalency diploma or higher education (social determinants of health domain) was reported by 94.7% of non-Hispanic white, 92.9% of non-Hispanic other, 91.1% of non-Hispanic black, and 70.9% of Hispanic women (BRFSS). Overall, health-care insurance coverage during the month before the most recent pregnancy (health-care domain) was 74.9% (PRAMS). A routine checkup during the preceding year was reported by 79.0% of non-Hispanic black, 65.1% of non-Hispanic white, 64.3% of other, and 63.0% of Hispanic women (BRFSS). Among women with a recent live birth (2-9 months since date of delivery), selected PRAMS results for the reproductive health and family planning, tobacco and alcohol use, and nutrition domains included several factors. Although 43% of women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unintended (unwanted or wanted to be pregnant later), approximately half (53%) of those who were not trying to get pregnant reported not using contraception at the time of conception. Smoking during the 3 months before pregnancy was reported by 25.1% of women, and drinking alcohol 3 months before pregnancy was reported by 54.2% of women. Daily use of a multivitamin, prenatal vitamin, or a folic acid supplement during the month before pregnancy was reported by 29.7% of women. Selected BRFSS results included indicators pertaining to the nutrition and physical activity, emotional and social support, and chronic conditions domains among women of reproductive age. Approximately one fourth (24.7%) of women were identified as being obese according to body mass index (BMI) on the basis of self-reported height and weight. Overall, 51.6% of women reported participation in recommended levels of physical activity per U.S. Department of Health and Human Services physical activity guidelines. Non-Hispanic whites reported the highest prevalence (85.0%) of having adequate emotional and social support, followed by other races/ethnicities (74.9%), Hispanics (70.5%), and non-Hispanic blacks (69.7%). Approximately 3.0% of persons reported ever being diagnosed with diabetes, and 10.2% of women reported ever being diagnosed with hypertension.

    Interpretation: The findings in this report underscore opportunities for improving the preconception health of U.S. women. Preconception health and women's health can be improved by reducing unintended pregnancies, reducing risky behaviors (e.g., smoking and drinking) among women of reproductive age, and ensuring that chronic conditions are under control. Evidence-based interventions and clinical practice guidelines exist to address these risks and to improve pregnancy outcomes and women's health in general. The results also highlight the need to increase access to health care for all nonpregnant women of reproductive age and the need to encourage the use of essential preventive services for women, including preconception health services. In addition, system changes in community settings can alleviate health problems resulting from inadequate social and emotional support and environments that foster unhealthy lifestyles. Policy changes can promote health equity by encouraging environments that promote healthier options in nutrition and physical activity. Finally, variation in the preconception health status of women by age and race/ethnicity underscores the need for implementing and scaling up proven strategies to reduce persistent health disparities among those at highest risk. Ongoing surveillance and research in preconception health are needed to monitor the influence of improved health-care access and coverage on women's prepregnancy and interpregnancy health status, pregnancy and infant outcomes, and health disparities.

    Public Health Action: Public health decision makers, program planners, researchers, and other key stakeholders can use the state-level PRAMS and BRFSS preconception health indicators to benchmark and monitor preconception health among women of reproductive age. These data also can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of preconception health state and national programs and to assess the need for new programs, program enhancements, and policies.

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