PENNSYLVANIA CELEBRATES SEVEN-YEAR IMPROVEMENT IN PRETERM BIRTH RATE! Receives “B” On 2014 March Of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card
Philadelphia, PA, November 06, 2014
The seven-year improving trend in Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate, helped give more babies a healthy start in life and contributed to the improvement in the national rate.
Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate was 10.7 percent in 2013, down from 11.8 in 2006, the year the national rate peaked. Pennsylvania again earned a B on the report card.
The national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent in 2013 – the lowest in 17 years -- meeting the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. Despite this progress, the nation still received a “C” on the annual report card and still has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any high resource country.
“We’re proud of Pennsylvania’s long-term improvement on the March of Dimes annual preterm birth report card. This success is a testament to the hard work of Pennsylvania’s state and local health departments, our hospital partners and health care providers. It shows that when a health problem, as complex as preterm birth, is challenged with strong policies and bold leadership, babies benefit,” said Jay S. Greenspan, MD, MBA, Chairman of Pediatrics for Nemours/Thomas Jefferson, and Board Chair of the March of Dimes Program Services Committee.“
In Pennsylvania, the rate of late preterm births is 7.3%; the rate of women smoking is 22.5% and the rate of uninsured women is 13.3%, all factors which the report card measures to assess improvements in infant health. Pennsylvania earned a star on the report card for lowering the late preterm birth rate and reducing the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke. 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 every other state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“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 Dr. Greenspan.
Grades are based on comparing each state’s and the nation’s 2013 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 11.4 percent, a decline of 11 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.org/reportcard.
Premature birth, birth before 37 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 17th, the March of Dimes and organizations from around the world will mark the fourth World Prematurity Day. The World Prematurity Network, (WPN), a global coalition of consumer and parent groups working together to raise awareness and prevent premature birth in their countries, is calling for action to prevent preterm birth and improve care for babies born too soon. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.
Learn more about Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day by visiting http://www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday and share stories and videos about babies born too soon. The page features an interactive world map showing the home place for each story told.
In Pennsylvania, Prematurity Awareness events are happening throughout November including Day of Gratitude. At hospital nurseries and neonatal intensive care units across the commonwealth, March of Dimes volunteers and staff will host “Day of Gratitude” celebrations. These events are an opportunity for the March of Dimes to express thanks to the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals for all that they do each day as they care for these tiny babies and their families.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at marchforbabies.org. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.