Massachusetts Celebrates Improvement in Preterm Birth Rate
Receives “B” On 2012 March Of Dimes Premature Birth Report CardWestborough, MA, November 13, 2012
The preterm birth rate in Massachusetts dropped to 10.5 percent in 2011 earning the state a “B” on the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card.
The March of Dimes grades states by comparing each state’s rate of preterm birth to the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent. Overall, the U.S. preterm birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 to 11.7 percent, the lowest in a decade, giving thousands more babies a healthy start in life and saving billions in health and social costs.
“We’re proud that our state’s preterm birth rate is improving, thanks to the work of the March of Dimes and our partners. Our progress in Massachusetts means that more babies are being born healthy, excess health care costs are being reduced, and families are being spared the heartache of having a baby born too soon,” said State Director of the Massachusetts Chapter Ed Doherty. “To continue this progress for mothers and babies, we have set a goal to reduce premature birth by at least 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.”
In Massachusetts the March of Dimes is supporting the Massachusetts Perinatal Quality Collaborative, a statewide cooperative voluntary program involving maternity facilities and key perinatal stakeholders, designed to promote the sharing of best practices of care which will help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.
Massachusetts is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates, 40 states, including Massachusetts, saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2010 and 2011. On the 2012 Report Card, 16 states 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.
Since 2006, the preterm birth rate for Massachusetts has dropped 0.8 percent from 11.3 percent in 2006 to 10.5 percent in 2011. In Massachusetts, the rate of late preterm births is 7.3 percent (down from 7.8 percent in 2010); the rate of women smoking is 20.7 percent and the rate of uninsured women is 5.6 percent.
These factors contribute to improved infant health and a lower preterm birth rate in Massachusetts. The state earned a star on the report card for reducing the percent of uninsured women of child-bearing age and lowering the late preterm birth rate.
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 47 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 individual states is available online at: marchofdimes.com/reportcard. A full multi-media press release with downloadable audio and video is available at: multivu.com/mnr/58942-march-of-dimes-2012-premature-birth-report-card.
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, according to an October 2009 March of Dimes report on the global toll of preterm 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 Facebook and follow us on Twitter.