State of Nevada Earns March Of Dimes 2016 Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award By Reducing Preterm Birth 9.2% Over Five-Year Period

Nevada Is One of Only Seven States to Receive Award This Year

Las Vegas, NV | Thursday, December 1, 2016

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Las Vegas, NV (December 1, 2016)  Today, it was announced that the state of Nevada received the 2016 March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award, for lowering its preterm birth rate by 9.2 % since 2010, surpassing the minimum requirement of 8 percent. State officials received special recognition for reducing its preterm birth rate from March of Dimes, the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, at the recent “Strategic Preterm Birth Planning Summit for Nevada.” The Virginia Apgar Award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent between the baseline year of 2010 and 2015. Nevada was one of only seven states to receive this recognition this year. Also recognized were Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served as vice president for medical affairs of March of Dimes.

According to March of Dimes, during the past five years 1,350 fewer babies were born preterm in Nevada, preventing heartache for their families and potentially saving more than $67 million in health care and societal costs. “The Apgar Award reflects the dedication of state health officials, health care organizations and maternity care providers. We congratulate Nevada on the work they have done to help babies,” says Kelly Ernst, March of Dimes Vice President of Maternal Child Health.

“We are thrilled to receive this award as it represents the hard work of many organizations across the state of Nevada to improve the health of moms and babies, but we know we still have much more work to do -- we still have too many babies being born too soon in our state” said Laura Valentine, Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Health Program Manager, in the Bureau of Child, Family and Community Wellness, which is within the Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH).

The preterm birth rate in Nevada was 9.9 percent in 2015, higher than the national average preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent, according to final data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Across the country, preterm birth rates were nearly 48 percent higher among Black women and more than 15 percent higher among American Indian/Alaskan Native women compared with White women.  Although Nevada’s preterm birth rates for American Indian/Alaskan Native is lower than the national average, the rate among Black women is over 40% higher than White women in Nevada.

Premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is the leading cause of death of babies in the U.S.  Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays. Babies born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. Beyond the devastating implications for the family, there are implications for educational and social services systems that provide resources to support children who survive but continue to need services.  Preterm birth accounts for more than $26 billion annually in avoidable medical and societal costs, according to the National Academy of Medicine. 

“This progress shows that when infant health becomes a community priority, significant progress is possible and families and babies benefit,” said Dr. Donna Miller, March of Dimes Nevada Maternal Child Health Committee Chair and OB-Gyn physician with Women’s Health Associates of Southern Nevada (WHASN).




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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