Florida Receives “D” on Premature Birth Report Card
Rochelle Darman, State Director of Marketing and Communications, (754) 300-2610, firstname.lastname@example.org
Report shows a three-year, improving trend in preterm birth rate.Statewide, FL, November 01, 2011
Florida received a “D” 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 Julie Samples, ARNP, MSN, March of Dimes Florida Chapter Program Services Committee Chair. “We are determined to continue to find and implement solutions to improve the health of babies, such as improving access to health care coverage, helping women quit smoking, and preventing unnecessary early c-sections, so more babies can get a healthy start in life.
Factors that contribute to preterm birth improved in Florida. It earned a star for:
• Reducing the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke
• Lowering the late preterm birth rate
Since 2006, Florida’s preterm birth rate has dropped to 13.5 percent. The rate of late preterm births is 9.6 percent; the rate of women smoking is 17.3 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 28.5 percent.
Quality improvement programs are key to lowering preterm birth rates, according to the March of Dimes.
In Florida, March of Dimes supports programs that provide information and support to families with babies in a neonatal intensive care unit. We have grant-funded programs in Hillsborough and Duval Counties that provide education and support to women who have had a stillbirth, infant death, or who have had a baby in a NICU, to help them reduce their risks for future pregnancies. And we have the “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign, which is working to prevent non-medically indicated deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, but in recent years it has become more common to schedule deliveries early at 37 or 38 weeks.
The United States received a “C” on the March of Dimes Report Card. Grades are based on comparing the state and the nation’s 2009 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 12.2 percent down nearly 5 percent from the peak of 12.8 percent in 2006.
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. 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 critical to a baby’s health because many important organs, including the brain, are not completely developed until then.
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.
This year, for the first time, a World Prematurity Day will be observed on November 17 by the March of Dimes along with organizations in Africa, Europe, and Australia. An estimated 13 million babies are born preterm and of those one million die as a result of their early birth, according to an October 2009 March of Dimes report on the global toll of preterm birth. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday.
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. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com/florida or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.