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    PENNSYLVANIA CELEBRATES FIVE-YEAR IMPROVEMENT IN PRETERM BIRTH RATE Receives “B” On 2012 March Of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

    Philadelphia, PA, November 13, 2012 —

    Pennsylvania earned a better grade on the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth report card, giving more babies a healthy start in life and contributing to the national five-year improving trend.

    Pennsylvania earned a B on the report card for lowering its preterm birth rate to 11 percent.

    “We’re proud that our state’s preterm birth rate is improving, thanks to the work of the March of Dimes and our partners. Pennsylvania’s progress means that more babies are being born healthy, health care costs are being reduced, and families are being spared the heartache of having a baby born too soon,” saidJay S. Greenspan, MD, MBA, March of Dimes Program Services Board Chair.

    Here, in Pennsylvania the March of Dimes is supporting several initiatives that will help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.  These include group prenatal programs, hospital efforts to end early elective deliveries and a program to provide interconceptional education during well-child pediatric visits.

    Pennsylvania is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates; 40 states saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2010 and 2011. On the 2012 Report Card, 16 states, including Pennsylvania got a better grade. Nationwide, the largest declines in preterm birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the improvement was across the board. Nationally, every racial and ethnic group benefitted, and the preterm birth rates for babies born at all stages of pregnancy improved.

    Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate has dropped from a high of 11.8% in 2006 to the current 11%. In Pennsylvania, the rate of late preterm births is 7.7%; the rate of women smoking is 26.9%, and the rate of uninsured women is 15.1%.  These factors contribute to improved infant health in Pennsylvania. It earned a star on the report card for lowering the late preterm birth rate.

    “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,” said Dr. Greenspan.

    The United States again received a “C” on the March of Dimes Report Card.  Grades are based on comparing each state’s and the nation’s 2011 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 11.7 percent, a decline of more than 8 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.com/reportcard.

    Preterm 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.

    On November 17th, partners from around the world will mark the Second World Prematurity Day in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. An estimated 15 million babies are born preterm and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.

    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 Facebookand follow us on Twitter.

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