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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) began conducting the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) survey in 2007. PRAMS is a survey that asks new mothers questions about their experiences and behaviors before and during pregnancy, right after delivery, and in the early infancy period. PRAMS is a surveillance project of the MDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The PRAMS sample is randomly drawn from Massachusetts birth certificates and includes women who have had a recent live birth in the state. Massachusetts samples about 2,400 women per year. Mothers are selected for participation between 2-6 months after delivery, with the majority chosen 2 months after delivery. Selected women are first contacted by mail. If there is no response to repeated mailings, women are contacted and given the opportunity to answer the survey by telephone.
If you receive a PRAMS survey in the mail, please fill out the survey and return it in the provided postage-paid envelope. You will receive a small token with the survey and a gift when the survey is returned.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does PRAMS exist?
PRAMS was initiated in 1987 because infant mortality rates were no longer declining as rapidly as they had in prior years. In addition, the incidence of low birth weight infants had changed little in the previous 20 years. Research has indicated that maternal behaviors during pregnancy may influence infant birth weight and mortality rates. The goal of the PRAMS project is to improve the health of mothers and infants by reducing adverse outcomes such as low birth weight, infant mortality and morbidity, and maternal morbidity. PRAMS provides state-specific data for planning and assessing health programs and for describing maternal experiences that may contribute to maternal and infant health.
Why is PRAMS important?
PRAMS provides data for state health officials to use to improve the health of mothers and infants. The PRAMS sample is chosen from all women who had a live birth recently, so findings can be applied to the state's entire population of women who have recently delivered a live-born infant.
How are PRAMS data used?
PRAMS provides data about pregnancy and the first few months after birth that are not available from other sources. 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. PRAMS data are used by MDPH 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 information does PRAMS collect?
The survey includes questions about experiences before, during and after pregnancy. The answers give us important information about mothers and babies. They help us learn why some babies are born healthy and others are not and provide information that will help improve the health of mothers and babies in the future.
How are mothers chosen to participate in PRAMS?
Mothers' names are selected by chance from the Massachusetts birth certificate registry. A small number of women are chosen to help us in this study. These women are selected randomly, regardless of whether they had a normal or complicated pregnancy.
Are my answers really important?
Yes, very important! Only a small group of mothers will receive the survey. Each pregnancy is different. To get a better overall picture of the health of mothers and babies in Massachusetts, we need each mother who receives the survey to answer the questions. Your answers will help improve the health of future mothers and babies in Massachusetts.
Will my answers be kept private?
Yes! All answers are kept confidential to the extent permitted by Massachusetts State law. All answers given on the questionnaires will be grouped together to give us information on Massachusetts mothers of new babies. Your name will not be on any reports from PRAMS.
Some of the questions do not seem related to health care. Why are they asked?
Many different things in a mother's life may affect her and her baby's health - even some things that don't seem directly related to pregnancy and birth outcomes. The PRAMS questions are meant to get information about the many aspects of mothers' lives before, during, and after pregnancy, which can affect health.
What if I want to ask more questions about PRAMS?
Please see the contact information below. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have about PRAMS. If you prefer to complete the questionnaire over the telephone, please let us know.
Hafsatou Diop , MD , MPH
Director, Office of Data Translation (ODT),
State MCH Epidemiologist, PRAMS Director,
Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: (617) 624-5764
Fax: (617) 624-5075
TTY: (617) 624-5992
This information is provided by the Office of Data Translation within the Department of Public Health.