There is still controversy surrounding the effectiveness of prenatal care in reducing low birthweight. In addition, very few studies have assessed the relationship between prenatal care and infant birthweight among pregnant women within the prison system. We sought to ascertain whether there is an association between the quantity of prenatal care and infant birthweight among pregnant women within such a setting. We examined the prison medical records of 147 infants born to women delivering at term (37-41 weeks of gestation) between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2004 who were incarcerated during pregnancy in Texas state prisons. Linear regression was used to evaluate the association between the number of prison prenatal care visits and infant birthweight while adjusting for potential confounders (age, gravidity, maternal education, maternal race, history of substance use, history of alcohol use, history of tobacco use and the presence of any chronic disease). We also adjusted for the interaction between the gestational age at admission to prison and the number of prison prenatal care visits. There was a statistically significant 120.5 g increase in adjusted mean birthweight with each additional prison prenatal care visit (P = 0.001) among study infants whose mothers entered prison during the first trimester. This trend was not observed among women who came in after the first trimester. There appears to be a positive association between the amount of prison prenatal care and infant birthweight among incarcerated pregnant women delivering at term, but this association appears to be limited to women entering prison during the first trimester of pregnancy.
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