This year, the United States received a “C” on the March of Dimes 2015 Premature Birth Report Card. Although the overall rate of preterm birth dropped to 9.6% in 2014, 1 in 10 babies in the U.S. is born too soon. And despite the decline, the U.S. preterm birth rate continues to rank among the worst of high-income countries.
Four states received an “A” on the report card—Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Vermont. All of these states had a preterm birth rate of 8.1% or less. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico all received an “F.” Their preterm birth rates were 11.5% or greater.
For the first time this year, in addition to grading states, the report card graded cities and counties around the nation. This additional analysis showed persistent racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities. According to the report card, Portland, Oregon has the best preterm birth rate at 7.2%, earning that city an “A” on the report card. However, Shreveport, Louisiana has the worst preterm birth rate and received an “F” for its 18.8% rate.
The March of Dimes has set a new goal to lower the national preterm birth rate to 8.1% by 2020 and to 5.5% by 2030. Reaching the 2020 goal of 8.1% will mean that 210,000 fewer babies will be born preterm and achieving the 2030 goal will mean 1.3 million fewer babies will be born preterm saving about $70 billion.
“This aggressive goal can be achieved by increasing best practices in preconception and pregnancy care, wider use of proven interventions such as progesterone and birth spacing, and funding discovery research through our research centers,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.
Continued research to identify new medical advances to prevent preterm birth is necessary in order to reach the new goal. The March of Dimes supports a nationwide network of five cutting-edge, team-based research centers seeking to find the unknown causes of preterm birth and ways to prevent it.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day (WPD) will be observed on November 17 by the March of Dimes and partner organizations worldwide. Activities in honor of WPD are expected in about 100 countries. Join us for Twitter chats throughout the month and the 24-hour #worldprematurityday Buzzday on November 17th.