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    Premature Birth Report Card

    Danielle Prenevost, March of Dimes, (612) 326-9444, dprenevost@marchofdimes.com

    Edina, MN, November 01, 2013 —

    Minnesota outperformed the nation in the sixth annual Premature Birth Report Card released today by the March of Dimes. The Report Card gives Minnesota a “B” with a premature birth rate of 10.2 percent. The nation as a whole received a “C” on the Report Card, but showed improvement. The United States’ preterm birth rate dropped for the sixth consecutive year in 2012 to 11.5 percent, a 15-year low.

     

    “Although our rate of preterm births has improved in recent years, we must do more to ensure a healthy birth for the babies of Minnesota. One in 10 babies here is born too soon and too small, putting them at risk for lifelong health problems,” said Glenn Andis, Board Chair for the March of Dimes. “We must continue to invest in premature birth prevention because every baby deserves a healthy start in life. Partnerships with our state health officials and local hospitals help us make newborn health a priority. Our goal is to reduce premature birth by at least 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.” 

     

    In Minnesota, March of Dimes is supporting hospital efforts to end medically unnecessary early deliveries and educate the public why the last weeks of pregnancy count through the Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait campaign. March of Dimes is funding community programs that address weight management before and during pregnancy and other programs to help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

     

    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. The Report Card information for the U.S. and states will be available online at marchofdimes.com/reportcard.

     

    In Minnesota, the rate of late preterm births is 7.1 percent; the rate of women smoking dropped to 19.5 percent and the rate of uninsured women dropped to 12.3 percent.

     

    A new feature added to the Premature Birth Report Card this year is a look at preterm birth rates by race and ethnicity. The preterm birth rate among American Indians at 13 percent and non-Hispanic black infants at 12.7 percent are the highest of all racial groups in Minnesota. Nationally, the gap between blacks and whites has been slowly narrowing, but the preterm birth rate among non-Hispanic blacks is still more than 1.5 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites.

     

    “The March of Dimes is concerned about inequities in health and health care that contribute to higher rates of preterm birth among different racial and ethnic groups,” said Board Chair Andis. “We urge state and federal governments to support funding and innovative practices that address the complex medical and social factors underlying racial and ethnic disparities in premature birth.”

     

    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.

     

    March of Dimes provides information and comfort to families with a baby in the newborn intensive care unit through two NICU Family Support programs in Minnesota. Having a baby hospitalized in a NICU can be frightening, confusing and overwhelming for parents. NICU Family Support provides information and comfort to families in crisis. March of Dimes offers NICU Family Support services at two Minnesota hospitals. The St. Cloud site opened in 2006. The second site opened at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital this spring. The public is invited to learn about the program at a NICU reunion Sunday, November 17 in the hospital lobby from 1-4 pm.

     

    In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life.  Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive.  Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects.  About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted the March of Dimes life saving research and education.

     

    The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.  Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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