NC moms-to-be seeking more care

UNC report card finds positive data on perinatal care

NC moms-to-be seeking more care click to enlarge The UNC report card targets women's health across a varity of disciplines.

Moms-to-be in North Carolina are succeeding when it comes to seeking first trimester care and dental care during pregnancy according to the 2014 North Carolina Women's Health Report released Card May 12.

The document is a progress report on the health and health care needs of North Carolina's 5+ million women produced by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) Center for Women's Health Research (CWHR).

Data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System found 80 percent of mothers were seeking prenatal care within the first trimester. Likewise, 44.7 percent also received dental care during their pregnancy.

“The percent of women receiving dental care during pregnancy is encouraging,” said Dr. Kim Boggess, a professor with the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at UNC. “A surge in pregnancy hormones can increase the risk of gingivitis and other oral diseases that can lead to health implications for both the mother and fetus.”

Poor oral health has been associated with premature births and low birth weight. The American Dental Association recommends that all women planning on getting pregnant, or who are pregnant, make a visit to their dentist or local dental clinic.

Early prenatal care during the first trimester, defined as the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, also aides in detecting pregnancy risk factors. Obstetricians and nurses are able to provide moms-to-be with lifestyle guidance and date the gestational age of the baby to increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby.

The report card is distributed to medical and public health professionals, policy makers, researchers and women's health advocacy groups throughout the state.

“The legislature has the difficult task of prioritizing issues that are important to the state and advising and leading the people of North Carolina through these challenging times,” said Brewster.  “The report card provides additional data that enables our leaders to make informed decisions.”

Data was compiled from state health behavior surveys, vital statistics, disease reporting systems, and US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau reports.  Preventive health, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, perinatal health, mental health and substance abuse are the key measures examined. It is the only health report of its kind in North Carolina.

Healthy People 2020 serves as the foundation for prevention efforts across HHS. It provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans by establishing benchmarks and monitoring progress over time.

The mission of CWHR is to improve women’s health through research by focusing on diseases, disorders and conditions that affect women only, women predominately, and/or women differently than men. Research efforts that require the most attention are identified through the collection and analysis of data for the report card. Current areas of research targeted by the Center include perinatal health, cancers affecting women, obesity, diabetes, women’s cardiovascular health, women’s mental health and substance abuse.

A full copy the 2014 North Carolina Women’s Health Report Card may be downloaded at

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