Prematurity Prevention Efforts Continue in Wyoming

| Thursday, November 6, 2014

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Grade on March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card Slips to “C”

Casper, Wyoming, November 06, 2014 —

Wyoming earned a ”C” on the 2014 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, a worse grade than last year, and a disappointment for maternal and health professionals involved statewide.

Wyoming’s preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8 percent of all live births. The 2013 preliminary preterm birth rate was 11.5 percent, up from 10.8 percent a year earlier and higher than the national preterm birth rate, despite the ongoing work by the March of Dimes and its partners to give more babies a healthy start in life.

Wyoming’s preterm birth rate has fluctuated in recent years. Although the rate got worse last year, the long-term trend shows improvement. Wyoming has begun to increase the percent of insured women of child-bearing age and slightly lowered the number of women who smoke. These improvements mean not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings in health care and economic costs to society.

“Although this year’s increase in our preterm birth rate is disappointing,” said Scott Matthews, Director of Program Services for the Colorado/Wyoming Chapter of the March of Dimes. “We are very encouraged by the state-level, collaborative initiatives that are focused on reducing the number of babies born too soon, improving the number of babies that celebrate their first birthday and improving inequalities across Wyoming. We are working to build programs and partnerships to provide the necessary framework for the future of newborn health and we hope to see better rates in the coming years.”

All states accepted the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) challenge to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent between 2009 and 2014. March of Dimes staff and state health officials pledged to determine if program changes are needed or if specific groups or regions should be targeted for assistance. Nationally, March of Dimes also is investing in a network of prematurity research centers to find solutions to this still too-common, costly, and serious problem.

Report Card information for the U.S. and states is available online.

View the report card for Wyoming.

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 vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

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 U.S. still received a “C” on the 7th annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card because it fell short of the more-challenging 9.6 percent target set by the March of Dimes, the group said today. The U.S. still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country

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 http://www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday 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.

About the March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.

With chapters nationwide, 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 at MODWyoming. Information on Wyoming activities and programs may be found at marchofdimes.org/wyoming

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.