What is VA PRAMS?
VA PRAMS is the Virginia Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, which is a survey of mothers who have recently had a baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started PRAMS in 1987 to improve the health of mothers and infants in the United States. PRAMS provides information about a woman’s experiences before, during and just after a pregnancy that resulted in a live birth. The PRAMS survey is currently conducted in 47 states, New York City, Puerto Rico, DC, and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, and represents over 83% of births in the U.S.
PRAMS gives the Virginia Department of Health and other health policy-makers important information about mothers and infants in Virginia. This information can highlight the issues that new moms and babies are facing, and it can show whether the types of programs offered by the state for mothers and infants are effective, or how they can be improved. Specifically PRAMS helps to:
- Identify mothers & infants at risk for health problems
- Identify probable causes associated with health problems
- Stimulate maternal child health research
- Share information and ideas to improve the health of Virginia’s mothers and infants
How does Virginia PRAMS collect data?
Each year, about 1,200 mothers are randomly chosen from Virginia birth certificates to participate in VA PRAMS. Each of these moms receives a mail survey; if she doesn’t respond, she is offered the opportunity to complete the survey on the telephone. For more detailed information on PRAMS methodology, click here to visit the CDCs’ PRAMS methodology website.
How are PRAMS data used?
PRAMS provides data not available from other sources about pregnancy and the first few months after birth. These data can be used to identify groups of women and infants at high risk for health problems, to monitor changes in health status, and to measure progress towards goals in improving the health of mothers and infants.
PRAMS data are used by researchers to investigate emerging issues in the field of maternal and child health.
PRAMS data are used by state and local governments to plan and review programs and policies aimed at reducing health problems among mothers and babies.
PRAMS data are used by state agencies to identify other agencies that have important contributions to make in planning maternal and infant health programs and to develop partnerships with those agencies.
What Types of Questions does Virginia PRAMS Ask Mothers?
The VA PRAMS questionnaire has two kinds of questions: some are asked by all states that participate in PRAMS, and others are asked only in Virginia. The questions ask about a new mom’s experiences and behaviors before, during, and after her pregnancy. Topics include:
- Attitudes and feelings about the most recent pregnancy
- Content and source of prenatal care
- Maternal alcohol and tobacco consumption
- Physical abuse before and during pregnancy
- Pregnancy-related morbidity
- Infant health care
- Contraceptive use
- Mother’s knowledge of pregnancy-related health issues, such as adverse effects of tobacco and alcohol; benefits of folic acid; and risks of HIV
- Attitudes and behaviors associated with breastfeeding
- Injury prevention and safety behaviors
- Dental care during pregnancy
- Postpartum health care
- Postpartum depression