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Application of the Kessner and Kotelchuck Prenatal Care Adequacy Indices in a Preterm Birth Population


Joan Rosen Bloch, Drexel University, 245 N. 15th Street, MS 1030, Philadelphia, PA 19102. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Objectives: Healthy People 2010 goals to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities that persist in the utilization of prenatal care (PNC) highlight the importance of measuring PNC as a variable in maternal and infant health outcomes research. These disparities are significantly correlated to adverse infant outcomes in preterm birth (PTB), a leading cause of infant mortality and life-long morbidity. Currently the most extensively used PNC adequacy indices (Kessner and Kotelchuck) were developed to measure outcomes in populations consisting mostly of full-term births. It is unclear whether these PNC adequacy indices are reliable when pregnancy is truncated due to PTB (<37 weeks). This paper compares and demonstrates how they can be applied in a specific PTB cohort.

Design and Sample: This secondary analysis of a nested case-control study compares Kessner and Kotelchuck adequacy scores of 367 mothers of PTB infants.

Results: There were significant differences in the rating of PNC inadequacy ( p<.001) depending on the PNC adequacy index used.

Conclusion: Critical evaluation is warranted before using these PNC adequacy indices in future public health nursing and PTB research.

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