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Pregnant women and young people thrive

Act 186 - MCH

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% of women who receive first trimester prenatal care


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: November 2020

Author: Vermont Department of Health

The proportion of women reporting first trimester prenatal care remains steady at 85% as measured on the birth certificate.

Pregnancy is a critical time for laying the groundwork for a healthy life. Starting prenatal care and getting regular checkups with a health care provider as soon as possible is vital to ensuring a healthy pregnancy and baby. If a pregnant person needs help finding a health care provider, the Local Health Office and the WIC Program can provide assistance. 

This can also be a critical time to prevent problems, such as premature birth, and address certain risk factors, such as tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use, as well as other substances, identify possible signs of depression and anxiety, and connect families to important resources during pregnancy and for new parents.  This is also a time to start thinking about how to feed your baby. For most babies, breastfeeding is the healthiest choice. In addition, breastfed babies are healthier and are less likely to have allergies, colds, ear infections, diarrhea, and some other sicknesses. Talking to a health care provider or a WIC nutritionist about breastfeeding can happen during this prenatal period.  Many resources are available during pregnancy.

What Works

Prenatal care is a key component of a healthy pregnancy. Regular prenatal care helps to identify and treat complications and promote healthy behaviors. Outcome data suggest that babies born to mothers who do not receive prenatal care are 3 times more likely to be of low birth weight, and 5 times more likely to die, compared with babies born to mothers who receive prenatal care.  In addition to medical care, prenatal care includes counseling and education.

The Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) has been working for over 20 years to strengthen and expand a network of obstetric providers and nurses at Medicaid participating hospitals throughout Vermont and New Hampshire that serve Vermont births, and collaborate to improve the quality of care provided to women and infants enrolled in Medicaid. The goal of the work is to improve access, coordination, and quality of care, as well as  to establish prenatal care standards and recommendations by standardizing quality assessment, benchmarking, and reporting.


The U.S Department of Health and Human Services provides a fact sheet that outlines key components of prenatal care. This includes why prenatal care is important, what happens during prenatal care visits, and what types of screenings and tests are recommended.

Why Is This Important?

Act 186 was passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2014 to quantify how well State government is working to achieve the population-level outcomes the Legislature sets for Vermont’s quality of life. It will assist the Legislature in determining how best to invest taxpayer dollars. The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Human Services report this information annually. Click here for more information.

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