Effects of Group Prenatal Care on Food Insecurity during Late Pregnancy and Early Postpartum


Objective This study compared the effects of group to individual prenatal care in late pregnancy and early postpartum on (1) women’s food security and (2) psychosocial outcomes among food-insecure women. Methods and Results We recruited 248 racially diverse, low-income, pregnant women receiving CenteringPregnancy™ group prenatal care (N = 124) or individual prenatal care (N = 124) to complete surveys in early pregnancy, late pregnancy, and early postpartum, with 84 % completing three surveys. Twenty-six percent of group and 31 % of individual care participants reported food insecurity in early pregnancy (p = 0.493). In multiple logistic regression models, women choosing group versus individual care were more likely to report food security in late pregnancy (0.85 vs. 0.66 average predicted probability, p < 0.001) and postpartum (0.89 vs. 0.78 average predicted probability, p = 0.049). Among initially food-insecure women, group participants were more likely to become food-secure in late pregnancy (0.67 vs. 0.35 individual care average predicted probability, p < 0.001) and postpartum (0.76 vs. 0.57 individual care average predicted probability, p = 0.052) in intention-to-treat models. Group participants were more likely to change perceptions on affording healthy foods and stretching food resources. Group compared to individual care participants with early pregnancy food insecurity demonstrated higher maternal-infant attachment scale scores (89.8 vs. 86.2 points for individual care, p = 0.032). Conclusions Group prenatal care provides health education and the opportunity for women to share experiences and knowledge, which may improve food security through increasing confidence and skills in managing household food resources. Health sector interventions can complement food assistance programs in addressing food insecurity during pregnancy.

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This project was supported the Research, Innovation, and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Center for Targeted Studies, Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), Mississippi State University, Dissertation Grant Program and by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Grant R36HS021975).This project also received support from the Institute for Advancement of Healthcare, Greenville Health System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders.

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Correspondence to Emily C. Heberlein.

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This study was concurrently approved by the Institutional Review Boards at the Greenville Health System and the University of South Carolina. All study participants provided written informed consent prior to their enrollment in the study.

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Heberlein, E.C., Frongillo, E.A., Picklesimer, A.H. et al. Effects of Group Prenatal Care on Food Insecurity during Late Pregnancy and Early Postpartum. Matern Child Health J 20, 1014–1024 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-015-1886-8

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  • Pregnancy
  • Food insecurity
  • Prenatal care
  • CenteringPregnancy
  • Group prenatal care