PRAMS was initiated in 1987 to help state health departments establish and maintain an epidemiologic surveillance system of selected maternal behaviors and experiences. PRAMS was started at a time when the US infant mortality rate was no longer declining as rapidly as it had in past years and the prevalence of low birthweight was showing little change. Maternal behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use and limited use of prenatal care and pediatric care were contributing to the slow rate of decline. PRAMS was designed to supplement data from vital records and to generate data for planning and assessing perinatal health programs in each participating state.

Why Is PRAMS Important?

  • PRAMS provides data for state health officials to use to improve the health of mothers and infants.
  • PRAMS allows CDC and the states to monitor changes in maternal and child health indicators (i.e. unintended pregnancy, prenatal care, breastfeeding, smoking, drinking, infant health).
  • PRAMS enhances information from birth certificates used to plan and review state maternal and infant health programs.
  • The PRAMS sample is chosen from all women who had a recent live birth, so findings can be applied to the state's entire population of women who recently delivered a live-born infant.
  • PRAMS not only provides state-specific data but also allows comparisons among participating states because the same data collection methods are used in all participating states.

How PRAMS Data Is 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:

  • State and local governments to plan and review programs and policies aimed at reducing health problems among mothers and babies.
  • 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.
  • Researchers to investigate emerging issues in the field of maternal and child health.

For more information, visit You will find detailed information on the methodology used, other participating states and data to action success stories.