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 72.5% of all pregnancies, and while persons of color represent only 15.9% of Erie County's population, they represent 27.5% of all reported pregnancies between 2016 to 2018. 

Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy has shown steep decline since the 2006-to-2008 reports, falling from 12.1% to 6.2% 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 analyzed age ranges.

Smoking During Pregnancy

Specifically looking at mothers smoking during pregnancy, White and Multi-Race women are more likely to be smokers at a rate of 19.3% and 16% respectively, compared to Asian (0.9%%), Black (10.6%), Hispanic (8.4%) mothers. Smoking during pregnancy has fallen from 2008, from 28.3% to 17.3% by 2018. Despite this, Erie County's mothers are still more likely on average to smoke during pregnancy, compared to the PA state rate of 11%. 

Prenatal Care

Early prenatal care rates are highest among White and Hispanic women (80% of all pregnancies for both), and for all women highest in age category 30 to 34 years old. Overall early prenatal care is higher among age groups after 30 years old (73.8%) than age groups younger than 30 (66.8%). Prenatal care rates dipped in 2006 to 2008, and while they've rebounded to 81.3% of all reported pregnancies, they've still not recaptured 2000 to 2002 rates which peaked at 83.4%.

Low Birthweight

Low birthweight in babies experienced a small drop from a peak 8.9% in the years 2008-2010 but has once again climbed to 9% of all pregnancies for the latest data years (2016-2019). For the latest data years (2016-2018) the rate of low birthweight babies is nearly 3 times higher for Hispanic babies than White, at 32.7% compared to 12.2%. Erie County's reported average (9%) is higher than the PA statewide average of 8.3%.

Infant Mortality

Concerning infant mortality, the rates have remained low since a slight increase in the 2006 to 2010 data bands, with a 0.7% rate from 2016 to 2018. 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 nearly 3 times the average compared to 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 data years period. The trend for Teen Pregnancy was down and better for the latest 2016 to 2018 period with a reported decrease of -0.8% within the County. There were 654 teen births in the 2014 to 2016 period, as compared to 544 teen briths from 2016 to 2018. 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 was down and better for the latest 2016 to 2018 period with a reported decrease of -2.2% within the County. There were a total of 1,522 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 was up and better for the latest 2016 to 2018 period with a reported increase of +1.8% within the County. There were a total of 1,626 mothers who reported not receiving early 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 was up and worse for the latest 2016 to 2018 period with a reported increase of +0.9% within the County. There were a total of 796 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 was up and worse for the latest 2016 to 2018 period with a reported increase of +0.8% within the County. There were a total of 63 infant deaths reported.

About this Data

Data from the PA Department of Health as of 12/2020.