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March of Dimes - Rhode Island Chapter

220 West Exchange St. #003

Providence, RI  02903

(401) 454-1911

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    California receives ‘B’ grade on 2011 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

    Sara Hyde, March of Dimes, (415) 217-6371, shyde@marchofdimes.com

    California reduces premature birth rates: the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S.A.

    San Francisco, CA, November 01, 2011 —

    California received a “B” on the March of Dimes 2011 Premature Birth Report Card, but the biggest news is the three-year, improving trend in its preterm birth rate.

    “Our state’s preterm birth rate has improved this year. We’re proud of this achievement and what we accomplished by working together with our partners for stronger, healthier babies,” said March of Dimes California Chapter State Director Karyn DeMartini. “We are determined to find and implement solutions to improve the health of babies, such as increasing access to health care coverage, helping women quit smoking, and preventing unnecessary early deliveries. This will ensure more babies get a healthy start in life.” 

    Preterm birth - birth before 37 weeks completed gestation - is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and others.

    Here in California, of the 526,774 babies born in 2010, 53,081 (10.4%) were born prematurely and 2,593 did not live to see their first birthday. 88,430 pregnant women received late or no prenatal care. Babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.

    The March of Dimes Preterm Birth Report Card grades states on prematurity rates, as well as factors that contribute to preterm birth. California saw great improvements in areas deemed critical in the health of babies born in the state. March of Dimes awarded the state “stars” in areas of:

    ·         Reducing  the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;
    ·         Reducing the percent of uninsured women of child-bearing age;
    ·         Lowering the late preterm birth rate.

    Since 2006, California’s preterm birth rate has dropped from a high of 10.9 percent to 10.3 percent. In California, the rate of late preterm births is 7.5 percent; the rate of women smoking is 9.4 percent; and the rate of uninsured women is 23.8 percent – all decreases from prior years. These figures bring hope to health professionals, after the nation saw a steep increase in prematurity rates – a staggering 20 percent – since the 1980’s.

    The United States received a “C” on the March of Dimes Report Card. According to the 2011 report card, three states and Puerto Rico received an F, 11 states and the District of Columbia earned a D, 19 states got a C, 16 states received a B and only Vermont earned an A. The United States received a “C” based on comparing the nation’s 2009 preliminary preterm birth rate of 12.2 percent with the March of Dimes new 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The nation’s preterm birth rate has declined nearly 5 percent from the 2006 peak of 12.8 percent.

    The March of Dimes says its 2020 preterm birth  goal can be achieved by a combination of activities:  giving all women of childbearing age access to health care coverage,  fully implementing proven interventions to reduce the risk of an early birth, such as not smoking during pregnancy, getting preconception and early prenatal care, progesterone treatments for women who are medically eligible, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments, avoiding elective c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy, and by funding new research on prevention of preterm birth.

    Quality improvement programs are key to lowering preterm birth rates, according to the March of Dimes. The California Chapter invests funding in seven different priority areas to improve the health of moms and babies statewide: Eliminating Elective Deliveries Before 39 Weeks; Preterm Labor Assessment Toolkit (PLAT); Health Inequities; NICU Family Support; Preconception/Interconception Health; Latino Initiatives; and, Maternal Standards of Care. The total 2011 investment made by the March of Dimes California Chapter was $449,600.

    The March of Dimes funds scientific research grants with the goal of determining the causes of and improving treatments for birth defects, premature birth and developmental disorders. California receives more March of Dimes research grant funding than any other state. In 2010, the March of Dimes had over $13 million in grant awards active in California, supporting the research of scientists in California’s most prestigious research centers.

    About the March of Dimes: The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. On November 17, 2011, the March of Dimes and its global partners will observe the first-ever World Prematurity Day to raise awareness that preterm birth is a serious problem worldwide. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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