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US preterm birth rate shows 5-year improvement
Date:11/13/2012

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Nov. 13, 2012 The U.S. preterm birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 to 11.7 percent, the lowest in a decade, giving thousands more babies a healthy start in life and saving billions in health and social costs.

Four states Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Maine earned an "A" on the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card as their preterm birth rates met the March of Dimes 9.6 percent goal. Although, the US preterm birth rate improved, it again earned a "C" on the Report Card.

"These results demonstrate that many premature births can be prevented with the right policies and bold leadership," said March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. "Our national progress in reducing premature births over the past five years shows that when infant health becomes a priority, babies benefit. We must implement proven interventions and accelerate our investment in new research to prevent preterm birth so one day every baby will get a healthy start in life."

The US preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8, after rising steadily for more than two decades, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. It dropped to 11.7 in 2011, the lowest in a decade.

All this improvement means not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings of roughly $3 billion in health care and economic costs to society, said Dr. Howse. About 64,000 fewer babies were born preterm in 2010, when compared to 2006, the peak year.

Dr. Howse attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014 from their 2009 rate, based on a challenge issued in 2011 by the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations.

On the 2012 Report Card, 45 states, the District of
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Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
elynch@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4286
March of Dimes Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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