2012 Missouri Prematurity Report Card
Missouri Earns "Average" GradeSt. Louis, Missouri, November 13, 2012
(St. Louis, November 13, 2012)... For the second year in a row, Missouri has received a “C” on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Each year, March of Dimes grades all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico by comparing the rates of preterm birth to the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent. Missouri’s preterm rate improved in 2011, but not enough to change its grade. The state came in at 11.6 percent, which is down .5 from the 2010 rate of 12.1 percent.
“We’re proud that our state’s preterm birth rate is improving, thanks to the work of March of Dimes and our partners. Missouri’s progress 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 Mary Elizabeth Grimes, State Director of the Missouri Chapter of March of Dimes.
Missouri is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. In fact, 40 states, including Missouri, saw improvement in preterm birth rates between 2010 and 2011. Since 2006, Missouri’s preterm birth rate has dropped from 12.8 percent to 11.6 percent.
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.
According to Trina Ragain, State Director of Program Services, Advocacy and Government Affairs, “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.”
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.
Although, the U.S. preterm birth rate improved, it again earned a “C” on the Report Card. The nation’s preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8, after rising steadily for more than two decades. It then dropped to 11.7 in 2011, the lowest in a decade.