Georgia Celebrates Five-Year Improvement in Preterm Birth Rate
Receives “D” On 2012 March Of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, Georgia, November 19, 2012
Georgia lowered its preterm birth rate, giving more babies a healthy start in life and contributing to the national five-year improving trend.
Georgia lowered its preterm birth rate to 13.2 percent, but not enough to change its grade. It again earned a D on the report card.
“We’re proud that our state’s preterm birth rate is improving, thanks to the work of the March of Dimes and our partners. Georgia’s progress means that more babies are being born healthy, excess health care costs are being reduced, and families are being spared the heartache of having a baby born too soon,” said Sheila Ryan, State Director of the March of Dimes, Georgia Chapter. “To continue this progress for mothers and babies, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the March of Dimes have set a goal to reduce premature birth by at least 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.”
Georgia is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. 40 states, including Georgia, saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2010 and 2011. On the 2012 Report Card, 16 states got a better grade. Nationwide, the largest declines in preterm birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the improvement was across the board. Nationally, every racial and ethnic group benefitted, and the preterm birth rates for babies born at all stages of pregnancy improved.
The March of Dimes attributed the improved rates to lowering the preterm birth rate and to expanding successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials here and in 47 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014. Work still needs to be done to lower the rate of uninsured women and women who smoke.
“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,” Ryan said.
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 2011 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 11.7 percent, a decline of more than 8 percent from the peak of 12.8 percent in 2006.
The Report Card information for Georgia and the U.S. is available online at marchofdimes.com/reportcard.
Preterm 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.
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 or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.