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    Ohio Receives “C” Grade on 2011 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

    Lisa Amlung Holloway, March of Dimes, (513) 769-3588, lholloway@marchofdimes.com

    November 17th is First-Ever World Prematurity Day

    Cincinnati, OH, November 01, 2011 — Ohio received a "C" 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 Karen Hughes, Chief, Division of Family and Community Health Services, Ohio Department of Health and Chair of the Ohio Chapter March of Dimes Program Services Committee. "We are determined to continue to find and implement evidence based and innovative solutions to improve the health of babies, such as improving access to health care coverage, helping women quit smoking, and quality improvement strategies, so more babies can get a healthy start in life."

    Factors that contribute to preterm birth improved in Ohio. It earned a star for:

    • Lowering the late preterm birth rate.

    Since 2006, Ohio's preterm birth rate has dropped to 12.3 percent. In 2009, the rate of late preterm births was 8.4%, the rate of women smoking was 26.8% and the rate of uninsured women was 16.0%.

    Quality improvement programs are key to lowering preterm birth rates, according to the March of Dimes.

    Here in Ohio, the March of Dimes supports programs like the Stork's Nest, NICU Family Support, Centering Pregnancy and many others.

    March of Dimes continues to partner and support the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative (OPQC) with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes as quickly as possible throughout the state. One of the goals that has seen great successes is the 39-week initiative, aimed at reducing non-medically needed inducement of labor prior to 39 completed gestational weeks of pregnancy.

    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 highter 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.

    Prematurity Awareness events are happening throughout November:

    • On November 17, 2011, the March of Dimes Ohio Chapter is holding a professional conference titled "Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy" at the Columbus Airport Marriott from 7:00 am until 5:00 pm. Call Lisa Holloway at 513-769-3588 or visit us at www.marchofdimes.com/ohio for details about the event.
    • On November 17, 2011, families as well as professionals are urged to WEAR PURPLE FOR BABIES for World Prematurity Awareness Day. The goal of World Prematurity Day is to raise awareness as well as raise funds to continue the very important work of research. When individuals register with a $5 donation, they are also entered into a drawing of one of ten $25 Macy's gift cards.
    • Raise $39 for 39 Weeks of Pregnancy throughout the month of November 2011 and receive three purple March of Dimes wrist bands (one for each trimester baby spends in womb) to wear proudly.
    • Throughout the month of November, work places and schools can conduct their very own "baby shower" and collect new baby items to benefit various March of Dimes programs in Ohio, such as NICU Family Support and Stork's Nest.

    Details and registration for all of these events can be found at www.marchofdimes.com/ohio.

    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 www.marchofdimes.com or www.nacersano.org.

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