Mothers-to-be, babies benefit from group prenatal care

A new study revealed that group prenatal care can substantially improve health outcomes for both mothers and their infants.

The research was led by Yale School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The research found that women who received group prenatal care (rather than traditional, individual care) were 33 percent less likely to have infants who were small for gestational age.

They also had reduced risk for preterm delivery and low birthweight and the babies spent fewer days in the neonatal intensive care unit, according to the study.

“Few clinical interventions have had an impact on birth outcomes,” said Jeannette R. Ickovics, the study’s lead author, in a news release.

“If scaled nationally, group prenatal care could lead to significant improvements in birth outcomes, health disparities, and healthcare costs,” she said.

The research team conducted the trial in 14 health centers in New York City and compared the birth outcomes of women who received CenteringPregnancy Plus group prenatal care to those who received traditional care.

CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care includes the same components of individual visits, but they the visits take place in a group setting. The groups have about eight to 12 women at the same gestational point in their pregnancy.

The next steps, according to the researchers, is to identify why group sessions yielded better outcomes, what influences patients to stick to group care sessions and analyze cost-effectiveness.

In Clark County, The Vancouver Clinic began offering CenteringPregnancy last October. The medical providers there began touting the benefits of the group prenatal care model after their first groups of mothers delivered.

“We’re believers,” said Lauren Andronici, lead certified nurse midwife at The Vancouver Clinic, after the first six months of the program. “I believe in the future … this is going to be the way to go, for sure.”

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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