March of Dimes Goal: Reduce Early Births To 9.6%

White Plains, New York | Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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The March of Dimes has set a goal to reduce the U.S. preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent of all live births by 2020.

The March of Dimes set the goal by estimating the maximum achievable benefits of applying known strategies to prevent preterm birth -- such as smoking cessation programs, progesterone treatments for medically eligible women, lowering the number of pregnancies from infertility treatments that result in multiples, and preventing medically unnecessary c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy. The new goal also anticipates that more women will have insurance coverage in the future, and that continued research will yield new medical advances.

“Our new preterm birth goal of 9.6 percent reflects the reality that preterm birth is a very complex problem, with many contributing causes. This goal is ambitious yet achievable,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “When we succeed – and I know we will – it will mean that in the United States alone 115,000 fewer babies each year would face the serious health risks of an early birth.”

More than half a million babies – some 12.2 percent of infants – are born too soon each year 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.

Prior to setting its own goal, the March of Dimes was aligned with the Healthy People 2010 objective of reducing premature birth to 7.6 percent of all births. The new Healthy People 2020 objective is 11.4 percent. The March of Dimes annual Premature Birth Report Card, which will be issued in November, will use the 9.6 percent goal as its baseline for determining grades.

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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