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California improves its ranking on March of Dimes Annual Preterm Birth Report Card
Date:11/13/2012

Sacramento, CA | November 13, 2012 California has seen marked improvements in rates of preterm birth according to a March of Dimes Preterm Birth Report Card released at the State Capitol today. Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire and Maine rank ahead of California in rates of preterm birth. California and Washington tied for 5th place with a rate of 9.8 percent. While preterm birthrates fell to 9.8 from 10.3, the improvements were not enough to warrant an "A" grade in 2012.

"Preterm birth had risen 30 percent since the 1980's, but today we can celebrate a reversal of that trend and announce steps we are taking to raise our grade to an "A" by 2014," said March of Dimes California Chapter Associate Director Leslie Kowalewski. "We are bringing together families affected by our mission, public health officials, physician leaders, hospitals and leading scientists to confront the issue of preterm birth."

Preterm birth - birth before 37 weeks gestation - 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, hearing loss and other chronic conditions.

California's preterm birth rate has dropped from a 2006 high of 10.9 percent to 9.8 percent. The report card graded the state on rates of preterm birth, and called attention to three areas of focus in the fight against preterm birth late preterm birth (birth between 34 and 37 weeks gestation), rates of smoking among women and access to healthcare for women. In California, the rate of late preterm births is 7.1 percent; the rate of women smoking is 10.4 percent; and the rate of uninsured women is 25.3 percent. The number of uninsured women of childbearing age grew from 2011 to 2012, a trend that concerns March of Dimes as o
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Contact: Sheri Lunn
slunn@marchofdimes.com
818-539-2191
March of Dimes Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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