Incarceration Exposure and Barriers to Prenatal Care in the United States: Findings from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System




Testa, Alexander
Jackson, Dylan B.

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Previous research demonstrates that exposure to incarceration during pregnancy—either personally or vicariously through a partner—worsens parental care. However, little is known about the specific barriers to parental care that are associated with incarceration exposure. Using data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (years 2009–2016), the current study examines the relationship between exposure to incarceration during pregnancy and barriers to prenatal care in the United States. Negative binomial and logistic regression models were used to assess the association between the recent incarceration of a woman or her partner (i.e., incarceration that occurred in the 12 months prior to the focal birth) and several barriers to prenatal care. Findings indicate that exposure to incarceration, either personally or vicariously through a partner, increases the overall number of barriers to prenatal care and this association operates through several specific barriers including a lack of transportation to doctor's appointments, having difficulty finding someone to take care of her children, being too busy, keeping pregnancy a secret, and a woman not knowing she was pregnant. Policies designed to help incarceration exposed women overcome these barriers can potentially yield benefits for enhancing access to parental care.



incarceration, pregnancy, maternal health, prenatal care, health


International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (19): 7331 (2020)


Criminology and Criminal Justice