The Miracle of Two Minneapolises in Prenatal Care

Minneapolis has among the worst racial disparities in the nation for unemployment, poverty, and policing of low-level crimes. Turns out our disparities begin in the womb.

While looking around for some data for another project, I ran into Minneapolis Health Department’s Reports. There’s a lot of great data there, but not all of it is necessarily in amazing condition for people to build off of.

One data set, entitled Minneapolis Birth Data, caught my attention. Locked away in mostly tabular PDFs are a lot of interesting numbers that tell you how Minneapolis’ neighborhoods fare by way of birth statistics: with a demographic overview of mothers’ race, age, education, marital status; and what trimester they began prenatal care (if at all), how adequate that care was, what their baby’s birth weight was, and whether it was premature.

After extracting some of the data, I made a map of the report from 2009-2011. In map form, the data is both shocking, and sadly not surprising when you know about the racial and socio-economic demographics of Minneapolis’ neighborhoods. A familiar pattern emerges, where the whitest and richest neighborhoods have a better overall access to prenatal care (West Calhoun, for instance, had 43 kids between the survey period of 2009-2011, and 100% are listed as receiving adequate care. Jordan, on the other hand, had 523 births, and 60.2% are listed as adequate, 30.1% as intermediate.

Explore the map by clicking below. I highly recommend also clicking on the neighborhoods to explore some of the demographic and gestational data.

Explore the map (Colorblind?)

According to the reports, adequacy of care is defined by:

This prenatal care utilization index was created using the recommended Prenatal Care Visit Schedule by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Factors used were gestational age, time prenatal care began, and the number of prenatal care visits obtained from the actual birth certificate. This index provides a standardized method for assessing the quality and amount of prenatal care.


People like to rave about the virtues of Minneapolis in our cherished national media sources. Minneapolis is great for millennials, Minneapolis has low unemployment, we are healthy, we have great parks, or we are basically a “miracle”. On the other hand, Minneapolis is the city with the largest racial unemployment disparity, and one of the worst racial poverty disparities, and we also have a huge racial disparity in low level arrests.

Taken with the map above, it seems our racial disparities begin even in prenatal care. If we hope to be “one Minneapolis”, we better step up the game. On the other hand, these are pre-Affordable Care Act numbers. What will the next report hold in store?


Cleaned data is available in CSV format on Github, and more reports are available on the Minneapolis Health Department website.