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Poor Pregnancy Outcomes

Alabama's #3 Health Concern

Alabamians identified poor pregnancy outcomes as the third greatest current health concern in Alabama. Fortunately, it is possible to obtain comprehensive data on the status of pregnancy outcomes from birth certificate data collected by ADPH's Center for Health Statistics. Data is collected by hospitals and transmitted electronically to the Center for Health Statistics.

Alabama Poor Pregnancy Outcomes Highlights

In 2011, Alabama had the second highest infant mortality rate in the nation and was one of only two states with a rate above 8 per 1,000 live births. The Alabama rate for 2011-2013 was 39 percent higher than the national rate from 2010-2012. In addition, the disparity in the survival of African American and Caucasian infants is striking. African American babies died at twice the rate of Caucasian babies. Infants born in rural counties had a survival advantage over their urban counterparts. Babies of teen mothers were more likely to die than those born to older mothers. There are also social class differences. Babies born to less educated mothers and those with Medicaid insurance coverage died at a higher rate than those born to more educated mothers and those with private insurance coverage.

Low birth weight is the factor most associated with infant mortality. Infants born at low birth weight are 20 times more likely to die as those born at normal birth weight and two-thirds of infant deaths are low birth weight. Babies born in Alabama are 25 percent more likely to be low birth weight than babies born in the United States. Very young and old mothers are more prone to bear low birth weight babies. In addition, African American babies are over 80 percent more likely to be born at low birth weight than Caucasian babies.

A major public health goal is for all females to receive adequate prenatal care. However, the percent of mothers receiving adequate prenatal care declined from 78.4 percent in 2002-2003 to 75.2 percent in 2012-2013. Younger mothers are more likely to receive inadequate prenatal care. In addition, African American mothers and those with Medicaid insurance coverage are more likely to receive inadequate prenatal care. Rural mothers are also slightly more likely to receive inadequate prenatal care.

Poor pregnancy outcomes can be biological or social, with many factors affecting the length of the pregnancy or the survival of the infant. Many of these factors also affect the time the mother begins prenatal care and the number of visits she receives.

Health Indicators

The following indicators have been selected for use in developing a benchmark or starting point for measuring the current state of and monitoring future changes regarding poor pregnancy outcomes in Alabama.


Page last updated: May 13, 2021