Massachusetts Celebrates Six-Year Improvement in Preterm Birth Rate
Receives “B” on 2013 March Of Dimes Premature Birth Report CardWestborough, MA, November 01, 2013
The state of Massachusetts lowered its preterm birth rate, giving more babies a healthy start in life and contributing to the national six-year improving trend.
Massachusetts lowered its preterm birth rate to 10 percent, which again earned a “B” on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.
“Partnerships with our state health officials and local hospitals have helped us make newborn health a priority and lower our preterm birth rate, making a difference in babies’ lives,” said Ed Doherty, state director, March of Dimes Massachusetts Chapter. “We will continue to work to give all babies a healthy start in life because too many still are born too soon, before their lungs, brains or other organs are fully developed.”
Here in Massachusetts, the March of Dimes is supporting several programs that help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies such as:
- The Massachusetts Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MPQC), a statewide cooperative voluntary program involving Massachusetts maternity facilities and key perinatal stakeholders, is designed to promote the sharing of best practices of care.
- The Birth Sisters Program at Boston Medical Center (BMC) is a community of women trained by BMC to provide support to other women from their own communities during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.
- The Worcester Healthy Baby Collaborative, a partnership involving more than 30 area agencies that works to promote healthy babies and pregnancies by reducing the rate of premature birth and infant mortality in the city of Worcester.
Massachusetts is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. On the 2013 Report Card, 31 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, including Massachusetts saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2011 and 2012. Nationwide, the largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the improvement was across the board. Every racial and ethnic group benefitted, and the preterm birth rates for babies born at all stages of pregnancy improved.
Almost every state saw its preterm birth rate decline since 2006, the national peak.
In Massachusetts, the rate of late preterm births is 7.1 percent; the rate of women smoking is 17.7 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 5.4 percent.
These factors contribute to improved infant health in Massachusetts. The state earned a star on the report card for:
- Reducing the percent of uninsured women of child-bearing age
- Lowering the late preterm birth rate
- Reducing the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke
These improvements mean 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 in all other 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.
The Report Card information for the U.S. and states will be available online at: www.marchofdimes.com/reportcard.
Premature birth, birth before 37 completed 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. Throughout the world, an estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.
Prematurity Awareness Month events are happening throughout November in Massachusetts, including:
- Tower Square, an office building in Springfield, MA, will be lit up purple from November 12-17 in honor of Prematurity Awareness Month.
- On November 14, a Prematurity Awareness Month event will be held at the Massachusetts State House at 11 a.m. The event is being sponsored by the office of State Senator John F. Keenan and will include a brief speaking program.
- On November 16, March of Dimes volunteers will be visiting eight Level 3 NICUs and several Level 2 NICUs in Massachusetts to deliver thank-you baskets to NICU nurses, doctors and staff to thank them for all they do for the most fragile babies.
- Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS) and the Massachusetts chapter of the March of Dimes will co-sponsor “The Journey Through Prematurity: From the NICU to Early Childhood,” on November 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at JF&CS, 1430 Main Street, Waltham, MA. The program will include a panel of preemie parents discussing where they have found the most hope in their journey through prematurity. To register, visit: www.jfcsboston.org