This study was based on a survey of a national sample of births in France in 1981 which included 5508 women. Four pathways of antenatal care were defined according to the stage of pregnancy at first intervention of a specialist, as opposed to a general practitioner, in the care of the pregnancy. Taking into account the sociodemographic and medical characteristics of the women in a logistic regression, a large number of antenatal visits, an ultrasound examination, and hospitalisation during pregnancy were more frequent when the degree of specialisation of the pathway increased. But the influence of pathways was less significant for deliveries. Caesarean section rates, for example, did not vary according to pathway. However, induction of labour and intrapartum electronic fetal monitoring were less frequent among women cared for solely by a general practitioner than among those who had consulted a specialist at least once during pregnancy. The increase in medical care and the role of the specialist in antenatal care are discussed.
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