Premature Birth Report Card

Eight states earned a better grade on the 2010 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card and 32 others and the District of Columbia saw their preterm birth rates improve.

Following three decades of increases, in 2008 the nation saw the first two-year decline in the preterm birth rate, a 4 percent drop from 2006. The 2008 preliminary preterm birth rate dropped to 12.3 percent, from the 2006 final rate of 12.8 percent. The March of Dimes says 79 percent of the decline was among babies born just a few weeks too soon.

Overall, the United States received a “D” on the report card, when national preterm birth rates are measured against the Healthy People 2010 goals.  The United States has a high rate of preterm birth compared to top scoring states and, notably, most industrialized countries.

On the 2010 report card, 17 states earned a “C,” 20 received a “D,” and 13 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico failed. However, most states saw improvement in at least one of the three contributing factors the March of Dimes tracks.

·                    28 states and Puerto Rico reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;

·                    17 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of uninsured women of childbearing age;

·                    37 states and Puerto Rico lowered the late preterm birth rate, infants born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation.

Curious to find out how your state did?  I was.

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3 Responses to “Premature Birth Report Card”

  1. Carmen Reed Says:

    When the greatest decline was seen for infants born 34-36 weeks, why is your campaign placing so much focus on delaying elective deliveries until 39 weeks. Twice in the past hour I have seen MOD promotional spots (Today Show and CNN) in which the blame for many preterm deliveries was placed on OB/GYNs for delivering babies early for convenience. This is inappropriate and a mistake on your part. It is offensive and baseless. My husband is an OB/GYN and I am a Labor and Delivery nurse. Our goal is always to provide the best care for the best possible outcome. Personal convenience NEVER factors into patient care decisions. We are your partner in this fight not your enemy. I am offended and will no longer support your organization. I will encourage others I know in the medical community to withhold support as well until the MOD removes all information implying that physicians are to blame for high preterm birth rates. How about some positive press for what a good job physicians are doing following the guidelines set by ACOG for elective delivery before 39 weeks.

  2. Cori Says:

    While I’m happy that Washington scored “high” on the list, that was still a C….how is the USA at a D, that’s just sad!!

    I’m excited to link up tomorrow, my post for Premie Awarness Day! Thanks again March of Dimes for hosting it!!

  3. Dr. Diane Ashton Says:

    We appreciate your concern about March of Dimes’ emphasis on preventing elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks and that you believe it may be misguided, however many prestigious academic medical institutions have maintained the same opinion prior to monitoring their practices, and analyzing their birth outcomes. In the current literature there are several studies citing the issue of “indication creep” concerning the timing of elective deliveries. It occurs as a result of many causes, and not solely due to physician convenience. The CDC reported in a 2009 publication that approximately 300,000 (23%) late preterm births had no recorded medical or obstetric indications and these infants experienced higher rates of neonatal and infant mortality compared to infants born as a result of spontaneous labor. Similarly, the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative reported that their initiative to reduce elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks resulted in a significant decrease in the number of elective late preterm infants born at 36 weeks, and a hospital in Houston published that 17% of their late preterm births were avoidable after assessing the indications.

    The March of Dimes does not support blaming physicians or perinatal providers for these outcomes, however we strongly believe that many of these factors contributing to preterm birth can be easily rectified with the appropriate information and awareness being shared with pregnant women and providers alike. We have learned from the literature that 52% of mothers believe that 34 -36 weeks is a safe gestation to deliver, that inaccurate gestational dating may contribute to the inadvertant delivery of late preterm infants, that better documentation of medical or obstetric indications for deliveries is needed, and that quality improvement initiatives to prevent elective deliveries before 39 weeks does decrease the number of late preterm infants delivered electively. It is the intent of the March of Dimes to raise awareness about this issue and provide as well as advocate for resources to support perinatal quality improvement initiatives and reimbursement for early and accurate gestational dating.