Washington Gets a B on the Prematurity Report Card
The United States' preterm birth rate dropped to a 15-year lowSeattle, WA, November 01, 2013
The six-year trend in Washington’s preterm birth rate, helped give more babies a healthy start in life and contributed to the improvement in the national rate.
Washington again earned a B on the report card.
Here, in Washington the March of Dimes is supporting prenatal services such as Centering Pregnancy and programs at Open Arms Prenatal Services that will help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.
“We must do more to ensure a healthy birth for the babies of Washington. This includes an understanding of the racial and ethnic disparities in preterm births. We are thrilled to partner with the March of Dimes as a grant recipient. They have helped us realize our mission to deliver strong community-based support for women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum,” said Executive Director of Open Arms Prenatal Services Sheila Capestany. “Together we are making the health of mothers and babies a priority and thus making a tremendous difference in their lives.”
Washington is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. Nationwide, the largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.
Since 2006, Washington’s preterm birth rate has dropped to 9.9 percent. In Washington, the rate of late preterm births is 7.2 percent; the rate of women smoking is 17.8 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 19.5 percent. Decreasing these factors contribute to improved infant health in Washington.
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 in all other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014 from their 2009 rate.
“We will continue to work together to improve access to health care, address racial and ethnic disparities in premature birth 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 March of Dimes State Director Jean Allenbach. “Additionally, we are partnering with the Washington State Health Department to ensure more babies are born healthy. Our goal is to reduce premature birth by at least 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.”
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 2012 preliminary preterm birth rates with the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The United States' preterm birth rate dropped for the sixth consecutive year in 2012 to 11.5 percent, a 15-year low.
The Report Card information for the U.S. and states will be available online at: marchofdimes.org/reportcard.
Premature 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.
On November 17th, partners from around the world will mark the Third World Prematurity Day in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.
Families and volunteers can observe World Prematurity Day by sending their friends a “virtual hug” to show that they care about premature babies. The “Hugs” campaign dramatizes the benefits of Kangaroo care, which is when parents cuddle their premature baby skin-to-skin. Kangaroo care is one of the most comforting things parents can do for their child. It helps keep the baby warm, stabilizes the baby’s heart rate and helps the baby gain weight.
Prematurity Awareness events are happening in Washington, including the special conference Beyond Birth Outcomes: How Stress and Racism Impact the Generations on January 16, 2014, at the Meydenbauer Conference Center. Details can be found at marchofdimes.org/washington.
In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life. Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted the March of Dimes life saving research and education.
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.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook @marchofdimeswa and follow us on Twitter @marchofdimeswa.