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    Colorado Celebrates Six Year Improvement in Preterm Birth Rate

    Receives B On 2013 March Of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

    Denver, CO, November 01, 2013 —

    A six-year improving trend in Colorado’s preterm birth rate helped give more babies a heathy start in life re-energizing local prematurity prevention efforts. Colorado again earned a B on the report card.

    “Although our rate of preterm births has improved in recent years, we must do more to ensure a healthy birth for the babies of Colorado. Partnerships with our state health officials and local hospitals have helped us make newborn health a priority and lowered our preterm birth rate, making a difference in babies’ lives,” said Scott Matthews, Director of Program Services, March of Dimes Colorado. “We are partnering with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to ensure more babies are born healthy. Colorado had met an interim goal to reduce premature birth by at least 8 percent by 2014 and is making strides to bring the preterm birth rate to no more than 9.6 of live births by 2020.” 

    Here in Colorado, the March of Dimes is supporting evidenced-based group models of prenatal education (Becoming a Mom) and prenatal health care (CenteringPregnancy), as well as working to give every baby a healthy start through the Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait collaborative initiative. These activities will help more Colorado women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

    Colorado is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. Nationwide, the largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.

    Since 2006, the state’s preterm birth rate has dropped to 10.4 percent while the rate of late preterm births is 7.5 percent; the rate of women smoking is 18 percent and the rate of uninsured women is 17.7.

    These factors contribute to improved infant health in Colorado. It earned a star on the report card for reducing the percent of uninsured women of child-bearing age. These improvements mean not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings in health care and economic costs to society.

    The March of Dimes attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials here and in all other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014 from their 2009 rate.

    “We will continue to work together to improve access to health care, help women quit smoking and, through our Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait consumer education campaign, encourage women and health care providers to avoid scheduling a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless medically necessary,” said Matthews.

    The United States again received a “C” on the March of Dimes Report Card.  Grades are based on comparing each state’s and the nation’s 2012 preliminary preterm birth rates with the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The U.S. preterm birth rate is 11.5 percent, a decline of 10 percent from the peak of 12.8 percent in 2006.

    The Report Card information for the U.S. and states will be available online at: marchofdimes.com/reportcard.

    Premature birth, birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, 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. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy are important to a baby’s health because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

    On November 17, partners from around the world will mark the Third World Prematurity Day in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of early birth.

    Families and volunteers can observe World Prematurity Day by sending their friends a “virtual hug” to show that they care about premature babies. The “Hugs” campaign dramatizes the benefits of Kangaroo care, which is when parents cuddle their premature baby skin-to-skin. Kangaroo care is one of the most comforting things parents can do for their child. It helps keep the baby warm, stabilizes the baby’s heart rate and helps the baby gain weight.

    The following Prematurity Awareness events are happening throughout Colorado in November. Details can be found at marchofdimes.com/Colorado or by contacting the Colorado Chapter at 303-692-0011. 

    • On November 5, the March of Dimes is holding a staff educational teleconference that will involve neonatal intensive care staff from Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Hospital as well as from Colorado Springs and Montana.  The purpose of the event is to continue to strengthen family-centered care in these for health care facilities.
    • On November 14, at the State Capitol, health care providers and other advocates for moms and babies are meeting to hold a Town Hall.  This will be an opportunity to learn more about the legislative process and how to engage in helping moms and their infants have better health.

    In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life.  Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted the March of Dimes life saving research and education.

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