Open Access Open Badges Research article

Program for expectant and new mothers: a population-based study of participation

Marni D Brownell12*, Mariette Chartier12, Wendy Au2 and Jennifer Schultz2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 408-727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 3P5, Canada

2 Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, University of Manitoba, 408-727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 3P5, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:691  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-691

Published: 6 September 2011



The Manitoba Healthy Baby Program is aimed at promoting pre- and perinatal health and includes two components: 1) prenatal income supplement; 2) community support programs. The goal of this research was to determine the uptake of these components by target groups.


Data on participation in each of the two program components were linked to data on all hospital births in Manitoba between 2004/05 through 2007/08. Descriptive analyses of participation by maternal characteristics were produced. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with participation in the two programs. Separate regressions were run for two groups of women giving birth during the study period: 1) total population; 2) those receiving provincial income assistance during the prenatal period.


Almost 30% of women giving birth in Manitoba received the Healthy Baby prenatal income supplement, whereas only 12.6% participated in any community support programs. Over one quarter (26.4%) of pregnant women on income assistance did not apply for and receive the prenatal income supplement, despite all being eligible for it. Furthermore, 77.8% of women on income assistance did not participate in community support programs. Factors associated with both receipt of the prenatal benefit and participation in community support programs included lower SES, receipt of income assistance, obtaining adequate prenatal care, having completed high school and having depressive symptoms. Having more previous births was associated with higher odds of receiving the prenatal benefit, but lower odds of attending community support programs. Being married was associated with lower odds of receiving the prenatal benefit but higher odds of participating in community support programs.


Although uptake of the Healthy Baby program in Manitoba is greater for women in groups at risk for poorer perinatal outcomes, a substantial number of women eligible for this program are not receiving it; efforts to reach these women should be enhanced.