US gets barely ‘passing’ grade on prematurity ‘report card’

November 7, 2013

Six states received an “A” grade on the March of Dimes’s 2013 Premature Birth Report Card but the country overall achieved only a “C.” That is despite a drop in rates of preterm birth for the sixth consecutive year.

 

Six states received an “A” grade on the March of Dimes’s 2013 Premature Birth Report Card but the country overall achieved only a “C.” That is despite a drop in rates of preterm birth for the sixth consecutive year.

Between 2011 and 2012, rates of preterm birth improved in Alaska, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Jersey.   A grade of “B” was given to 19 states, whereas 17 states and the District of Columbia received a “C,” five states got a “D,” and three states and Puerto Rico received an “F” on the report card. Information on the March of Dimes Report Card-which compares state-level rates of preterm birth to the organization’s target of 9.6% of all live births by 2020-is available at http://www.marchofdimes.com/reportcard.  

Rates of preterm birth were highest among non-Hispanic black infants, at 16.8%, down from 18.5% in 2006 and the lowest in more than 20 years. The preterm birth rate among non-Hispanic blacks was more than 1.5 times that for non-Hispanic whites.

According to The March of Dimes, approximately $9 billion in health and societal costs have been saved because 176,000 fewer babies have been born too soon since 2006. That year, the national preterm birth rate peaked at 12.8% after rising steadily for more than 20 years. The 2012 rate represents a 10% improvement since 2006 and the best rate since 1998.

In an interview with EverydayHealth about the new statistics, Contemporary OB/GYN Editor-in-Chief Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, said, “We’ve gotten really good at preventing second preterm births. What we’re not good at is preventing the first one. We need much more research to tackle the genetics and the cause of preterm birth.”  

 

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