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    Wyoming Celebrates Six Year Improvement in Preterm Birth Rate

    Casper, WY, November 01, 2013 —

    The six-year improving trend in Wyoming’s preterm birth rate, helped give more babies a healthy start in life re-energizing local prematurity prevention efforts.

    Wyoming again earned a B on the report card despite a preterm birth rate of 10.8 percent.

    “Although our rate of preterm births has improved in recent years, we must do more to ensure a healthy birth for the babies of Wyoming. Partnerships with our state health officials and local hospitals have helped us make newborn health a priority and lowered our preterm birth rate, making a difference in babies’ lives,” said Scott Matthews, Director of Program Services.  “We are partnering with Wyoming Department of Health to ensure more babies are born healthy.  Our goal is to reduce premature birth by at least 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.” 

    Here, in Wyoming the March of Dimes is supporting the reduction of preterm births that occur before 39 weeks of pregnancy, called Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.  This campaign ensures that if a pregnancy is healthy that babies be given all the time they need to develop.   March of Dimes also sponsors a program to provide families with a backpack of supplies and resources when their newborn must be transferred out of state because he or she requires intensive hospital care.

    Wyoming is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. Nationwide, the largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.

    Since 2006, Wyoming’s preterm birth rate has dropped to 10.8 percent. In Wyoming, the rate of late preterm births is 7.9 percent; the rate of women smoking is 24.4 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 22.7 percent.

    These factors contribute to improved infant health in Wyoming. It earned a star on the report card for reducing the percent of uninsured women of childbearing age.

    This improvement means 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.

    “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 Matthews.

    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 2012 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 11.5 percent, a decline of 10 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.

    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.

    On November 17th, partners from around the world will mark the Third 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 premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.

    Families and volunteers can observe World Prematurity Day by sending their friends a “virtual hug” to show that they care about premature babies.   The “Hugs” campaign dramatizes the benefits of Kangaroo care, which is when parents cuddle their premature baby skin-to-skin. Kangaroo care is one of the most comforting things parents can do for their child. It helps keep the baby warm, stabilizes the baby’s heart rate and helps the baby gain weight.

    During, November, Prematurity Awareness Month, March of Dimes will be distributing Prematurity Awareness Kits to hospitals and providing gifts of gratitude to all NICU/Labor & Delivery staff.   

    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.

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