By CHASE WAGNER
The seven-year improving trend in Indiana’s preterm birth rate helped give more babies a healthy start in life and contributed to the improvement in the national rate.
Indiana’s preterm birth rate was 11 percent in 2013, down from 13.2 in 2006, the year the national rate peaked. Indiana again earned a B on the report card.
The national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent in 2013 – the lowest in 17 years — meeting the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. Despite this progress, the nation still received a “C” on the annual report card and still has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any high resource country.
“We’re proud of Indiana’s long-term improvement on the report card. Their success is a testament to the hard work of Indiana’s state and local health departments, our hospital partners and health care providers. It shows that when a health problem, as complex as preterm birth, is challenged with strong policies and bold leadership, babies benefit,” said Niceta C. Bradburn, MD, FAAP, Medical Director Women and Children’s Services Line, St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care. “Through the March of Dimes’ unique, team-based research projects, we will continue the important work of discovering the unknown causes of preterm birth so more babies will get a healthy start in life.”
The March of Dimes is investing in a network of prematurity research centers, to find solutions to this still too common, costly, and serious problem. It has been a leading partner with the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative in supporting Governor Pence’s goal of improving infant mortality in the state of Indiana.
In Indiana, the rate of late preterm births is 7.8 percent; the rate of women smoking is 25.4 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 19.9 percent.
Reducing the percent of uninsured women of child-bearing age contributed to improved infant health in Indiana and earned a star on the report. This improvement means not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings in health care and economic costs to society.
The March of Dimes attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials here and every other state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“We will continue to work together to improve access to health care, help women quit smoking and, through our Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait consumer education campaign, encourage women and health care providers to avoid scheduling a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless medically necessary,” Dr. Bradburn.
Grades are based on comparing each state’s and the nation’s 2013 preliminary preterm birth rates with the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The U.S. preterm birth rate is 11.4 percent, a decline of 11 percent from the peak of 12.8 percent in 2006.
The Report Card information for the U.S. and states will be available online at: marchofdimes.org/reportcard.
Premature birth, birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, 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 and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy are important to a baby’s health because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.
On Nov. 17, the March of Dimes and organizations from around the world will mark the fourth World Prematurity Day. The World Prematurity Network, a global coalition of consumer and parent groups working together to raise awareness and prevent premature birth in their countries, is calling for action to prevent preterm birth and improve care for babies born too soon. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.
Learn more about Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day by visiting http://www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday and share stories and videos about babies born too soon.
The page features an interactive world map showing the home place for each story told.
Prematurity Awareness events are happening throughout November.
Here in Indiana:
- The March of Dimes Southwest Division is hosting a Signature Chefs Auction on Nov. 6.
- On Nov. 17, the March of Dimes Central Division is holding several Day of Gratitude visits at local Neonatal Intensive Care Units with hundreds of families and friends of premature babies.
- On Nov. 13 and Nov. 17, the March of Dimes Northeast Division is holding several Day of Gratitude visits at local Neonatal Intensive Care Units with hundreds of families and friends of premature babies, as well as a free adult flu shot clinic at local Walgreens.
- During November, you can see the Evansville Four Freedoms Monument and the Jasper Engines and Transmission shining in purple light to symbolize hope for a healthy start for more babies.
Full details can be found at marchofdimes.org/Indiana.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at marchforbabies.org. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.