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    Pennsylvania Celebrates Three-Year Improvement in Preterm Birth Rate

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

    Philadelphia, PA, November 01, 2011 —

    The three-year improving trend in Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate is re-energizing local prematurity prevention efforts. Here, in Pennsylvania the March of Dimes is supporting group prenatal programs, efforts to reduce repeat preterm birth and other local programs that will help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

    “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 Jay S. Greenspan, MD, MBA, March of Dimes Program Services Board 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.

    Pennsylvania earned a “C” on the 2011 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Since 2006, Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate has dropped from 11.8 percent to 11.5 percent. In Pennsylvania, the rate of late preterm births is 8 percent; the rate of women smoking is 22.5 percent; and the rate of uninsured women is 14.0 percent.

    Factors that contribute to preterm birth improved in Pennsylvania. It earned a star for reducing the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke.

    Quality improvement programs are key to lowering preterm birth rates, according to the March of Dimes. Here in Pennsylvania, the March of Dimes is investing more than $4.2 million including funding of the following projects:
    • Program to provide postpartum education to mothers of preterm newborns aimed at reducing repeat preterm birth
    • Program to provide genetic services to women who experience repeated pregnancy losses
    • Program to provide interconceptional education during well-child pediatric visits
    • Program to provide group prenatal care training to obstetric providers

    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.

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

    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.

    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 marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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