March of Dimes 2014 Birth Report Card

| Thursday, November 6, 2014

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Milwaukee, WI, November 06, 2014 —



State Receives “B” on 2014 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

The seven year improving trend in Wisconsin’s preterm birth rate helped give more babies a healthy start in life and contributed to improvement in the national rate. Wisconsin’s preterm birth rate was 10.4 percent in 2013, down from 11.4 percent in 2006, the year the national rate peaked. Wisconsin 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 Health People 2020 goal seven years early. Despite this progress, the nation still received a “C” on the annual report card and still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any high‐resourced country.

“We’re proud of Wisconsin’s long‐term improvement on the report card. This success is a testament to the hard work of Wisconsin’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 Joanne Szymaszek, March of Dimes Wisconsin Chapter Board President. “Through the March of Dimes’ unique, team‐based research projects, including $1.4 million active research grants in Wisconsin, we will continue the important work of discovering the unknown causes of preterm birth so more babies will get a healthy start in life.” The March of Dimes is investing in a network of prematurity research centers, to find solutions to this still too‐common, costly, and serious problem.

In Wisconsin the rate of late preterm births is 7.4 percent; the rate of women smoking is 21.9 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 11.4 percent. These factors contribute to improved infant health in Wisconsin. It earned a star on the report card for:

♦ Lowering the late preterm birth rate.

♦ 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 in 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 Jodi Legge, State Director – March of Dimes Wisconsin Chapter. 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 U.S. preterm birth rate is 11.5 percent, a decline of 10 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:

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 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. Prematurity Awareness events are happening throughout November. Here in Wisconsin…

• On World Prematurity Day, Monday, November 17, the Wisconsin March of Dimes South Division is holding a family brunch at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee for families and friends of premature babies. Call Angie Biersach, March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist, at 414‐266‐4723 for details about the event.

• Governor Walker is issuing a Prematurity Awareness Month Proclamation to draw statewide attention to the importance of this issue.

• Throughout November, you can see Wisconsin businesses and pubic spaces shining in purple light to symbolize hope for a healthy start for more babies. These organizations have taken the “Purple Pledge” to raise awareness through purple lighting, clothing, balloons, flags, flyers, messaging, etc.

Details can be found at

To view the full report card click here.

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 For the latest resources and information, visit or Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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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