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Prenatal Care, American Style — A Trojan Horse for Harmful Interventions?

The U.S.’s disgraceful infant and maternal mortality rates — higher than in any other wealthy nation — raise questions about what to do — including fewer unsafe tests and vaccines — to lessen the risk of complications during delivery and postpartum.

The United States’ disgraceful infant and maternal mortality rates — higher than in any other wealthy nation — raise questions about what to do to lessen the risk of complications during delivery and postpartum.

In this regard, government health agencies often highlight the importance of prenatal care.

In fact, increasing “early and adequate prenatal care” is a core objective of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 goal related to pregnancy and childbirth — an objective achieved for three out of four American women, with only 6% of women who give birth receiving little or no prenatal care.

“Adequate,” in the U.S. context, means as many as 15 prenatal visits. But does this barrage of prenatal attention actually improve maternal and infant outcomes?

Or — as Harvard researchers implied in an article published in 2020, in the prestigious journal Health Affairs — is it counterproductive overkill?

In many European nations, women may attend half as many prenatal visits, yet infant and maternal mortality rates are far lower.