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Nevada and Idaho jump out in report on rates of prenatal care for pregnant minors

A black-and-white ultrasound image of a fetus in utero.
Mikael Damkier
Adobe Stock
Ultrasound is often used for prenatal screening. It's just one of several prenatal screenings available to pregnant girls and women.

A new study on the rates of prenatal care for pregnant minors shows a wide range among states in the Mountain West.

In Nevada, 9.2% of the babies born to girls 17 and younger did not receive prenatal care. That’s the highest percentage in the nation, according to research firm ValuePenguin, which analyzed Center for Disease Control and Prevention data between 2016 and 2020.

New Mexico had the fifth-highest rate at 6.1%, followed by Arizona at 5.9%. Colorado ranked 11th at 4.6%.

Robin Townsend, a health insurance expert at ValuePenguin, said that in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, access to prenatal care is increasingly important, especially for minors, as states restrict abortion access, forcing more teenagers to carry pregnancies to term.

“Both the mother and the baby are more likely to have physical issues with pregnancy and birth,” she said of teen moms. “There is a much higher chance of a lower birth weight and more births resulting in injury to the mother.”

In Idaho, just over 2% of babies born to minors didn’t receive prenatal care. That ties for the nation’s fourth-lowest rate. Utah (2.9%) and Montana (3.1%) ranked No. 9 and 10, respectively.

Wyoming was not included in the study. States with fewer than 500 babies born to minors between 2016 and 2020 were excluded from the state-level analyses, according to ValuePenguin.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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