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Preterm birth rate shows three year improvement in most states
Date:10/31/2011

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Preterm birth rates improved in almost every state between 2006 and 2009, and in several states the change was more than 10 percent, according to the March of Dimes 2011 Premature Birth Report Card.

"The three-year improvement in the U.S. preterm birth rate means that 40,000 more babies were given a healthy start in life and spared the risk of life-long health consequences of an early birth," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "It means that, nationwide, we saved at least $2 billion in health care and socio-economic costs. Now we owe it to the other half a million infants who were born too soon to work together to give them the same chance."

According to the 2011 report card, three states and Puerto Rico received an F, 11 states and the District of Columbia earned a D, 19 states got a C, 16 states received a B and only Vermont earned an A. The United States received a "C" based on comparing the nation's 2009 preliminary preterm birth rate of 12.2 percent with the March of Dimes new 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The nation's preterm birth rate has declined nearly 5 percent from the 2006 peak of 12.8 percent.

The improvement in the preterm birth rate is due to a variety of health interventions, the March of Dimes says. For more than two years, the March of Dimes has been working with hospitals and health policy experts to identify and promote quality improvement initiatives that have reduced the number of medically unnecessary c-sections and inductions scheduled before 39 weeks of pregnancy. Also new treatments, such as progesterone, which has been shown to prevent some preterm births in medically eligible women, has helped lower the preterm birth rate.

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 2006 Institute of Medicine report. It is the leading ca
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Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
elynch@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4286
March of Dimes Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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