The 2019 March of Dimes Report Cards are in, and the grades aren’t good. For the fourth year in a row, more babies in this country were born too soon. The preterm birth rate rose to 10.02 percent in 2018, earning the nation a “C” grade.
Each year, March of Dimes grades the nation, all states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico based on the latest data on preterm birth rates—this results in the March of Dimes Report Card. This year’s Report Card confirms that, sadly, the U.S. is facing an urgent maternal and infant health crisis. After nearly a decade of decline, the preterm birth rate has risen yet again—in 2018, it was 10.02 percent
We know that preterm birth can lead to long-term health and developmental disabilities for babies. But we also know that early delivery impacts the health of moms as well. For example, sometimes women face long-term health complications like preeclampsia, which is linked to heart disease and stroke later in life. Additionally, the stress that comes from having a preterm birth can affect a woman’s mental health and have a lasting impact on the entire family unit.
What other factors did March of Dimes look at?
This year’s Report Card looks at the current state of maternal and infant health in more detail. Beyond medical factors, we also know there are external factors that should be looked at to better understand this crisis. This includes access to health care, social determinants of health (such as poverty and access to health insurance) and implicit bias that exist in our health care system. Implicit racial bias happens when we put labels or make judgment of people without being aware of it. Implicit racial bias can make us act or think in an unfair way towards people or social groups.
New Report Card features include:
- The addition of plus or minus grades, to reflect smaller rate changes in prematurity.
- Solutions and policy actions that can make a difference.
- Social determinants that affect the health of moms and babies.
- An estimated average cost of preterm birth by state.
What grade did your state receive?
The Report Card shows that overall preterm births worsened in 30 states, with six states earning a failing grade (“F”). Based on the number of births in 2017, among the 100 largest U.S. cities, Cleveland, OH has the worst (highest) preterm birth rate at 14.5 percent.
Curious to know how your state performed? Visit the 2019 March of Dimes Report Card to learn more.
What is March of Dimes doing to improve these outcomes?
Because there’s no single cause of preterm birth, we must take action from different angles. We do this by:
- Delivering programs to improve the care that moms and babies receive
- Advancing research
- Advocating for policies to protect moms and babies
- Empowering families and communities with knowledge and tools to have the best possible start
- Supporting moms through every stage of the pregnancy journey
- Amplifying the voices of all women and families
What can you do to help?
You can help support moms and babies across the country by joining the #ItsNotFine campaign during #PrematurityAwarenessMonth. You can also:
- Visit MarchofDimes.org/ActionCenter to speak up and on social media use #BlanketChange.
- Donate at MarchofDimes.org or create your own #DIYfundraising campaign.
- Volunteer in your community. Learn more at MarchofDimes.org/volunteers.
- Share your story and take part in our #UnspokenStories community. Don’t forget to tag us @marchofdimes on social media.
It’s not fine. But with your help, it can be. Learn more at marchofdimes.org