To estimate the feasibility of using measures developed by the Clinical Workgroup of the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative to assess women's prepregnancy wellness in a large health care system.
We examined Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) national administrative data, including inpatient, outpatient, fee-basis, laboratory, pharmacy, and screening data for female veterans aged 18–45 who had at least one pregnancy outcome (ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, and live birth) during fiscal years 2010–2015 and a VA primary care visit within 1 year before last menstrual period (LMP). LMP was estimated from gestational age at the time of pregnancy outcome, then used as a reference point to assess eight prepregnancy indicators from the Workgroup consensus measures (eg, 3 or 12 months before LMP).
We identified 19,839 pregnancy outcomes from 16,034 female veterans. Most (74.9%) pregnancies ended in live birth; 22.6% resulted in spontaneous abortion or ectopic pregnancy, and 0.5% in stillbirth. More than one third (39.2%) of pregnancies had no documentation of prenatal care within 14 weeks of LMP. Nearly one third (31.2%) of pregnancies occurred in women with obesity. Among pregnancies with a recent relevant screening, 29.2% were positive for smoking and 28.4% for depression. More than half (57.4%) of pregnancies in women with preexisting diabetes did not have documentation of optimal glycemic control. Absence of sexually transmitted infection screening in the year before or within 3 months of LMP was high. Documentation of prenatal folic acid use was also high. Exposure in the same timeframe to six classes of teratogenic medications was low.
Despite limitations of administrative data, monitoring measures of prepregnancy wellness can provide benchmarks for improving women's health across health care systems and communities. Areas for intervention to improve female veterans' prepregnancy wellness include healthy weight, optimizing control of diabetes before pregnancy, and improved use and documentation of key prepregnancy health screenings.