FLORIDA GETS A “C” ON MARCH OF DIMES PREMATURE BIRTH REPORT CARD - Racial Disparities and Gaps Among Communities Highlighted

| Thursday, November 5, 2015

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Maitland, Florida, November 05, 2015 —

Florida earned a “C” on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, which for the first time graded the state’s cities and revealed persistent disparities between communities and among racial and ethnic groups.

Florida’s preterm birth rate was 9.9 percent in 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Cities with the greatest number of births were also graded. Orlando and St. Petersburg earned a “C”; Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa earned a “D”; and Fort Lauderdale received an “F”.

March of Dimes also measured the gaps in the preterm birth rates across racial/ethnic groups within the state. Florida scored a disparity index of 16 and ranked 8th in the nation. “This detailed information will show us where we have the greatest need and allow us to meet the unique needs of each community,” said Dr. Karen Harris, March of Dimes Florida Chapter Program Services Committee Chair. “Our state is not doing as well as we should in preventing premature births and too many of our babies must fight to overcome the health challenges of an early birth. Premature birth is the number one killer of babies and many of our families still face that fear.”

March of Dimes has been looking in depth at the problem of premature birth in Florida and have discovered “hot spots” in Clay, Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, and Polk counties. Experts in maternal and child health are convening next week in Tampa for a Florida Prematurity Summit to focus on known causes in these “hot spots” and evidence-based interventions for premature birth in these areas and across Florida.

“The Florida Prematurity Summit will provide us with the opportunity to develop a statewide plan to decrease the racial disparities that exists.” said Dr. William Sappenfield, March of Dimes Big Five Initiative Chair and Florida Prematurity Summit Committee Member. “Florida’s “C” grade clearly reflects the state’s progress in reducing preterm births, but work must continue to bring the rate down.”

United States earns a “C”
Nationally, the preterm birth rate was 9.6 percent in 2014, earning the United States a “C”, meeting the March of Dimes 2020 goal early. March of Dimes set a new 2020 goal to 8.1 percent by 2020, and to 5.5 percent by 2030. Reaching the new March of Dimes 2020 goal will mean that 210,000 fewer babies will be born preterm, and achieving the 2030 goal will mean 1.3 million fewer babies will be born preterm saving nearly $70 billion.

March of Dimes says it recognizes that continued research to identify new medical advances to prevent preterm birth is necessary in order to reach the new goal. The March of Dimes has invested in a nationwide network of five new Prematurity Research Centers to find the unknown causes of this still too-common problem and potential solutions.

The improvement in the U.S. preterm birth rate came through bold leadership by the March of Dimes, and the implementation of programs and policies by state and local health departments, hospitals and health care providers. Also, a more accurate method of measuring pregnancy length recently was adopted by the National Center for Health Statistics. The new measurement already is used by most other high-resource countries.

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card - Florida

March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card - Unites States

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.