Data Book for Policy Makers: Maternal and Infant Health in the United States

On an average day in the United States...

  • 11,686 babies are born
  • 1,487 babies are born preterm (less than 37 completed weeks gestation)
  • 964 babies are born low birthweight (less than 2,500 grams, or 5 1/2 pounds)
  • 329 babies are born with a birth defect*
  • 237 babies are born very preterm (less than 32 completed weeks gestation)
  • 173 babies are born very low birthweight (less than 1,500 grams, or 3 1/3 pounds)
  • 78 babies die before reaching their first birthday

The March of Dimes Data Book for Policy Makers: Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in the United States 2010 provides, in an easy-to-use resource guide, national and state data highlighting infant mortality, birth defects, preterm and low birthweight births, health insurance coverage for women and children, and prevention strategies. The Data Book is aimed at public policy makers and others seeking quick facts.

For more detail, and regular updates of many of the data presented in this book, visit PeriStats, the March of Dimes interactive data resource.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2006 final natality data and 2005 period linked birth/infant death data. Prepared by the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, 2009.

*Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate of at least 120,000 babies born annually with major structural birth defects. Note: Numbers are approximations.

See Also: March of Dimes Data Book for Policy Makers (PDF, 8.5mb)

Most common questions

What is happening with health care reform?

While some provisions take effect this September (see our In-depth article), the new law will not fully go into effect until 2014. In the interim, the March of Dimes is reviewing and commenting on the rules for implementation that are being issued by the Administration.

The March of Dimes will update this site on items that directly affect women of childbearing age, infants and children, but to get even more information about all of the advances, visit

Where can I find out about getting insurance coverage for my child?

The first place to inquire is with your state insurance commissioner's office. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has a Web site to help parents determine if their children are eligible for free or low-cost health coverage under the reauthorized Children's Health Insurance Program. Visit for more information.

Why did the March of Dimes support health care reform?

Since our founding, the March of Dimes has worked to shape public policy that affects maternal and child health. Health reform offered an unparalleled opportunity to improve the health of and address the needs of women, infants and children. Specifically:

  • Expanding and improving coverage for maternity and pediatric care
  • Strengthening Medicaid (which covers more than 40% of all births)
  • Increasing the number of currently uninsured women of childbearing age and children who will be covered in 2014

By law and longstanding tradition, the March of Dimes is strictly nonpartisan and remained nonpartisan throughout the debate. Initially, we worked with members with many different views and party affiliations, but as the debate went on, we focused our energies on ensuring that legislation likely to be approved contained the strongest provisions possible to address the unique health needs of children and pregnant women.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).