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ABSTRACT

It is not currently known whether sufficiently precise data on a previous pregnancy, labor and delivery, and early infancy can be obtained retrospectively. We conducted a telephone survey in 1991 of women who delivered babies between 1984 and 1986 at two teaching hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee, to assess how well mothers recall information on factors predictive of an adverse birth outcome. The survey yielded 102 usable responses that were compared with hospital records for mothers and infants. Overall, 89 percent agreement was found between women's responses and their charts. Respondents were not reluctant to answer potentially sensitive questions, and their technical knowledge was typically better for their own health than about some prenatal diagnostic procedures and their infants' health. We found no difference in recall accuracy according to whether mothers experienced some adversity with the index pregnancy. Accurate perinatal information can generally be obtained with a recall period as high as four to six years. (BIRTH 20:3, September 1993)