Maternity & Childbirth Rates in Erie County

Maternity & Childbirth

Analysis Categories

What does this measure?

The rates of birth by age and select race/ethnicity, specific teen pregnancy rates, early prenatal care by age and select race/ethnicity, and rates of non-smoking among pregnant women by age and select race/ethnicity. Banded in 3 year increments since 2000 for Erie County.

Why is this important?

Pregnancy and birth rates are another indicator of a community's growth in human capital. Concerning teen pregnancy, it can derail a young woman's life, preventing her from furthering her education or growing up to be self-sufficient. Babies born to teen mothers are at higher risk of having a low birth weight and of infant mortality compared to babies born to older mothers. They are also at risk of lower cognitive development, poor educational outcomes and living in poverty. Smoking during pregnancy can cause premature births or low birth weight, which presents an increased risk for illness and prolonged medical treatment. Smoking during pregnancy also is a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome. Early, high-quality prenatal care is critical to reducing risks for complications of pregnancy or birth and improving birth outcomes.

How is Erie County doing?

Birth Rates

Birth rates show a natural bell curve among women from teenage to 45+ in Erie county, with the highest number of births occurring to mothers who are between 25 to 29 years of age. By race/ethnicity, White mothers represent 72.8% of all pregnancies, and while persons of color represent only 13.5% of Erie County's population, they represent 27.2% of all reported pregnancies between 2015 to 2017. 

Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy has shown steep decline since the 2006 to 2008 reports, falling from 12.3% to 6.4% of all births within the County, at an average of -1.9% per 3 year increment. Teen pregnancy remains highest amongst White Erie County residents across all age ranges.

Smoking During Pregnancy

Specifically looking at non-smoking mothers during pregnancy, Multi-Race women are less likely to be non-smokers at a rate of 77% compared to Asian (99%), Black (83%), Hispanic (88%), and White (82%) mothers. Smoking during pregnancy has fallen from 2008, from 28.3% to 18.5% by 2017. Despite this decrease, Erie County's mothers are still more likely on average to smoke during pregancy, compared to the PA state rate of 11.7%. 

Prenatal Care

Early prenatal care rates are highest among White women (82%), and for all women highest in age category 30 to 34 years old. Overall early prenatal care is higher among age groups before 35 years old (75%) than age groups older than 35 (70%). Prenatal care rates dipped in 2006 to 2008, and while they've rebounded to 80.2% of all reported pregnancies, they've still not recaptured 2000 to 2002 rates which peaked at 83.4%.

Low Birthweight

Low birthweight in babies has experienced a small drop from a peak 9.0% in the years 2009-2011to 8.4% for the latest data years (2015-2017) but has steadily risen and remained higher than the 2000-2002 low of 7.4%. For the latest data years (2015-2017) the rate of low birthweight babies is over double for people of color, at 13.4% compared to 7.5% for white. Erie County's reported average (8.4%) is nearly on par with the PA statewide average of 8.3%.

Infant Mortality

Concerning infant mortality, the rates have consistently dropped since data years 2000-2002, but rates per race continue year-over-year to show a significantly higher rate for the black population as compared to white. On average, black infant mortality occurs at over twice the average for white infant mortality in Erie County, and higher than the PA state average. This trend occurs for both neonatal and postneonatal infants for all years under analysis.

EVS Indicators

EVS analyzes the data in each topic category using indicators, which report a targeted and digestible number, rate, or amount to represent Erie County as a whole. While this does not cover every aspect of the topic, it assists in establishing Erie's performance relative to the prior year(s). The indicators for the Health: Maternity & Childbirth topic are:

This indicator measures the share of girls ages 15 to 19 in a geographic area who have given birth in a given year. The trend for Teen Pregnancy is down and better for the 2015 to 2017 period with a reported decrease of -0.25% within the County. There were 797 teen births in the 2012 to 2014 period, as compared to 588 teen briths from 2015 to 2017. Pregnancies fell particularly for White teen mothers.

This indicator measures the share of births in a year to women of all ages who reported smoking during pregnancy. The trend for Smoking During Pregnancy is down and better for the 2015 to 2017 period with a reported decrease of -2.3% within the County. There was a total of 1,692 mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy.

This indicator measures the share of mothers of all ages who reported receiving prenatal care during their first trimester. The trend for Early Prenatal Care is up and better for the 2015 to 2017 period with a reported increase of 1.9% within the County. There was a total of 1,795 mothers who reported prenatal care during pregnancy.

This indicator measures the percentage of low birth weight infants (babies who are born weighing less than 2,500 grams or 5 pounds, 8 ounces). The trend for Low Birth Weight Infants is up and worse for the 2015 to 2017 period with a reported increase of +0.7% within the County. There was a total of 771 low birth weight infants reported.

This indicator measures the number of deaths per 1,000 births per year for infants under the age of one year. The trend for Infant Mortality is up and worse for the 2015 to 2017 period with a reported increase of +0.3% within the County. There was a total of 65 infant deaths reported.

How does Erie compare to its Peers?

About this Data

Data from the PA Department of Health as of 2018.