New Mexico’s Preterm Birth Rate Reaches 10.3% -- A Ten-Year High; Torrance County Is One of Ten New Mexico Counties Declared Maternal Care Deserts

Albuquerque, New Mexico | Thursday, December 6, 2018

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The inaugural March of Dimes New Mexico Birth Equity Summit will take place Friday, December 14 from 7:45 am to 4:00 pm at the Los Duranes Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The statewide summit is co-sponsored by Lovelace Health Systems and brings together New Mexico health care providers, clinicians and policy makers to tackle urgent maternal and infant health disparities. Topics for the summit include the 2018 March of Dimes New Mexico Prematurity Birth Report Card, Changing The Way We Understand And Care For Black Women, Birth Outcomes and Hospital Access on US-Mexico Border, How Coercion and Implicit Bias Impacts Healthcare Provision Today, Centering Pregnancy®: An Opportunity To Improve The Prenatal Care Experience and Implementing Birth Equity Principles in Medical School.

Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in the U.S. and pregnancy-related death has more than doubled over the past 25 years, making the United States the most dangerous developed nation to have a newborn baby. Women of color are most at risk of facing life-threatening complications, and black women are three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes.

March of Dimes, the nation’s leading maternal and infant health nonprofit, recently released a report entitled “Nowhere to Go: Maternity Care Deserts Across the U.S.” identifying counties in which access to maternity health care services is limited or absent, either through lack of services or barriers to a woman’s ability to access that care. In New Mexico, there are ten counties designated as maternity care deserts. While the majority of maternal care deserts are in rural areas, the problem also exists in larger counties, including Roosevelt and Torrance.

New Mexico’s preterm birth rate reached a ten-year high rising again in 2018 from 10.0 to 10.3 percent, receiving a “C” Grade, according to the 2018 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. For the third year in a row, more U.S. babies were born too soon with serious risks to their health. While there is no single cause of preterm birth, research shows that chronic inequities and unequal access to quality health care do have a negative impact on maternal and infant health. Dona Ana County has the lowest preterm birth rate in New Mexico at 8.2% while Sandoval County’s preterm birth rate is 54% higher at 12.6%. Health disparities within the African American community are a key issue. The preterm birth rate for black women in New Mexico is 26 percent higher than the rate among all other women.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring local experts together, to share their innovative knowledge and experience tackling birth equity in our large and diverse state,” says Emma Gamelsky, March of Dimes New Mexico Maternal Child Health Director. “Speakers will cover a broad range of topics. Young Women United will share the historical context of reproductive justice and ways this influences women’s health today.  Marnie Nixon, Midwife and Health Extension Rural Officer for Southern NM, will discuss current and relevant issues around access to care for pregnant women.  Other presenters, including midwives and doctors, will cover successful programs and new initiatives that improve birth outcomes for specific populations.”

“We must all come together to take concrete, commonsense steps to reverse this alarming trend,” says Stacey D. Stewart, president of March of Dimes. “Our country’s most important resource is human potential. That begins with ensuring every baby has the healthiest possible start in life, regardless of racial and ethnic background or their family’s income. By expanding proven programs and innovative solutions we can shift our health care system to improve treatment and preventive care for moms and lower the preterm birth rate. Birth equity is our goal; it can be reached.” 

The summit is free, but space is very limited. Register at

Los Duranes Community Center is located at 2920 Leopoldo Rd. NW, Albuquerque, N.M., 87104. Registration opens at 7:45 am and presentations begin at 8:15 am. Lunch and coffee will be provided. Attendees are encouraged to bring information to share during lunch and open networking times.

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.

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