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US Premature Births Plummet: Report

By    |   Thursday, 06 November 2014 04:31 PM

The number of premature births has plummeted to the lowest level in 17 years, with the national preterm rate falling to 11.4 percent in 2013, according to a new report.
The 7th annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card said the dramatic decline means the nation has met the premature birth goal set by the federal Healthy People 2020 guidelines seven years early. But the report card still gave the U.S. a “C” because the nation still falls short of the more-challenging 9.6 percent target set by the March of Dimes.
"Achieving the Healthy People 2020 goal is reason for celebration, but the U.S. still has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any high resource country and we must change that," said March of Dimes President Jennifer L. Howse, M.D. "We are investing in a network of five prematurity research centers to find solutions to this still too-common, costly, and serious problem."
Among the report’s findings:
  • More than 450,000 babies were born premature in 2013, compared to 542,893 in 2006 when the rate was at its highest.
  • Since 2006, 231,000 fewer babies have been born preterm because of sustained interventions put in place by states, saving $11.9 billion in healthcare and other costs. Medical expenses for an average premature infant are about $54,000, compared to just $4,000 for a healthy newborn.
  • 27 states and Puerto Rico saw their preterm birth rates improve between 2012 and 2013, earning better grades for five of them: Iowa, Virginia, Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma.
  • Five states earned an "A," including California, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. Twenty states earned a "B," 20 states received a "C," two states and the District of Columbia got a "D," and only three states and Puerto Rico, received an "F" on the Report Card.
  • 30 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of uninsured women of childbearing age.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face serious health challenges, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss, and cerebral palsy.
Even babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies.

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The nation's preterm birth rate has plummeted to its lowest level in 17 years, according to a new report.
premature, birth, plummet, march, dimes
Thursday, 06 November 2014 04:31 PM
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