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Fetal and Perinatal Mortality Data Updated

Aug 19, 2013- PeriStats has been updated with the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics for fetal and perinatal mortality in the United States for 2006.

Fetal mortality is the death of a fetus prior to delivery. Perinatal mortality is a measure of death around the time of delivery and includes fetal deaths of at least 28 weeks of gestation and infant deaths at less than 7 days old. PeriStats displays information about the US, states, counties, and cities and by maternal age, race, and Hispanic ethnicity.


Special Care Nursery Admissions

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 19, 2011- The March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center has partnered with the National Perinatal Information Center/Quality Analytic Services (NPIC/QAS) to describe special care nursery admissions among NPIC/QAS member hospitals.

Specialty care was defined as any time spent by the infant in a neonatal intermediate care unit (NINT, Level II nursery) or a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU, Level III nursery) bed at any time during the hospital stay. Key findings from the analyses included:

  • 14.4% of newborns delivered at or transferred to NPIC/QAS member hospitals were admitted to a special care nursery.
  • Among all special care nursery admissions, 49.1% were preterm, 50.4% were term (37-41 weeks) and less than 1% were post-term.
  • The average length of the hospital stay for newborns admitted to a special care nursery was 13.2 days, with an average hospital charge of $76,000.

Click here for access to the complete summary of the analyses. If you have any questions, please contact the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center at peristats@marchofdimes.com.


Preterm Birth Rates Improve in Most States

Eight States Get a Better Grade on the 2010 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Nov. 17, 2010- Eight states earned a better grade on the 2010 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card and 32 others and the District of Columbia saw their preterm birth rates improve.

Following three decades of increases, in 2008 the nation saw the first two-year decline in the preterm birth rate, a 4 percent drop from 2006. The 2008 preliminary preterm birth rate dropped to 12.3 percent, from the 2006 final rate of 12.8 percent. The March of Dimes says 79 percent of the decline was among babies born just a few weeks too soon.

Overall, the United States received a "D" on the report card, when national preterm birth rates are measured against the Healthy People 2010 goals. The United States has a high rate of preterm birth compared to top scoring states and, notably, most industrialized countries.

"The policy changes and programs to prevent preterm birth that our volunteers and staff have worked so hard to bring about are starting to pay off," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "The two-year decline we have seen nationwide, though small, are encouraging. We believe this decline is the beginning of a trend, but must be supported by better health care, new research and adoption of intervention programs to lower the risk of preterm birth."

The March of Dimes released its 2010 report card today, the 8th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day®, when the nation is asked to focus attention on the growing problem of premature birth.

"As a family doctor, I've seen the terrible impact of premature birth," said U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, who today unveiled a new public service announcement about the serious problem of preterm birth. "It can cause life-long disabilities, and it is the leading cause of deaths in newborns."

"Our country has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world," Benjamin said. "We have to do better."

In the United States, more than half a million babies are born preterm each year. Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, 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 infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby because many important organs, including the brain, are not completely developed until then.

On the 2010 report card, 17 states earned a "C," 20 received a "D," and 13 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico failed. However, most states saw improvement in at least one of the three contributing factors the March of Dimes tracks.

  • 28 states and Puerto Rico reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;
  • 17 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of uninsured women of childbearing age;
  • 37 states and Puerto Rico lowered the late preterm birth rate, infants born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation.

There are known strategies that can lower the risk of an early birth, such as smoking cessation, preconception care, early prenatal care, progesterone treatments for women with a history of preterm birth, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments and avoiding unnecessary c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

The March of Dimes offers programs and best practices to support health care professionals and consumers to address preterm birth, including:

  • Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait®, is an innovative, community-based pilot project of health promotion and prematurity prevention aimed at reducing the singleton preterm birth rate. A March of Dimes partnership with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, it combines consumer awareness and education; screenings and referrals for women for treatable or preventable conditions; prenatal care and appropriate care between pregnancies; and professional education. Visit prematurityprevention.org for information.
  • "Why the Last Weeks of Pregnancy Count," a consumer brochure that explains the important development that occurs to a baby's brain during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Used by doctors and nurses nationwide, it explains why it's important to schedule an induction or c-section for non-medical reasons after 39 weeks of pregnancy and describes the baby's growth and development in the last few weeks of pregnancy. More information is available at: csection_lastweeks
  • "Elimination of Non-medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries Before 39 Weeks Gestational Age" tool kit, which offers practices for clinicians and patients to better understand the consequences of early elective delivery and the importance of the last weeks of pregnancy. It includes case studies that can serve as models, from leading healthcare institutions nationwide that implemented policies and practices successfully lowering elective deliveries and preterm births. It is available from the March of Dimes:medicalresources_39weeks
  • The Preterm Labor Assessment kit provides guidance for standardized assessment and diagnosis of preterm labor by health care professionals. It offers 'best practice' recommendations for uniform diagnosis of preterm labor, timely interventions, fewer unnecessary hospitalizations and treatments, improved allocation of scarce nursing and hospital resources and increased maternal-fetal safety. It is available from the March of Dimes at: medicalresources_pretermlabor

In addition to its efforts to prevent preterm birth in the United States, the March of Dimes also is developing partnerships with organizations worldwide. An estimated 13 million babies are born preterm and one million die as a result of their early birth, according to a March of Dimes report on the global toll of preterm birth.

March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Day® is sponsored by CIGNA, FedEx, Destination Maternity and Hologic. On Nov. 17, Farmers Insurance, a March of Dimes sponsor, is sponsoring a six-hour marathon of the Discovery Health series NICU, which shows the experiences of babies fighting for their lives in a newborn intensive care unit.

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. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/peristats.


Federal Report Finds Early Births Decline in Most Categories

Rates Drop for Most States and Ethnic and Gestational-Age Groups

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 11, 2010- For the first time in three decades, the nation - and most states - saw a two-year decline in preterm birth rates, indicating that strategies implemented over the past seven years have begun to pay off, according to the March of Dimes.

"In 2003, we began a national campaign to reduce the terrible toll of premature birth because every baby deserves a healthy start in life," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "In every state, our volunteers are working with policy makers to improve the quality of perinatal care, and determine best practices for reducing preterm birth. We are thrilled with this sign of sustained progress."

This week, March of Dimes Medical Director Alan Fleischman, MD, will testify about preterm birth and infant mortality before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. At the May 12 hearing, he will discuss preterm birth's effects on child health and development; interventions to stop unnecessary c-sections and early inductions and other recommendations for reducing preterm birth. Dr. Fleischman also will urge Congress to reauthorize the PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450), which supports expanded research, education and other projects to help reduce preterm birth rates.

Despite the improvement, each year in the United States, more than half a million infants are born too soon. Preterm birth, (birth before 37 weeks gestation), is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually. It is a leading cause of infant death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and others.

Nationally, the preterm birth rate declined four percent between 2006 and 2008 from 12.8 to 12.3 percent of live births, according to the report: "Are Preterm Births on the Decline in the United States? Recent Data From the National Vital Statistics System," by Joyce Martin et al., released today by the National Center for Health Statistics, (NCHS).

Preterm birth rates are down in 35 states. Rates declined for both late preterm (34 to 36 weeks gestation) and early preterm births (before 34 weeks gestation). Rates also declined among the major racial and ethnic groups, for mothers under the age of 40, and regardless of the method of delivery, according to the NCHS report.

The NCHS report pointed out that between 2006 and 2008 the preterm birth rate declined five percent among both non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black mothers. Hispanic mothers also experienced a slight decline over the two-year period.

Also, preterm birth rates declined four percent for babies delivered by a cesarean section. Among vaginal deliveries, preterm birth rates declined regardless of whether or not labor was induced, although there was a larger decline in induced vaginal deliveries.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, 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. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Preterm Birth Rate Drops Three Percent

Fewer Babies Face Health Risks of an Early Birth

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., APRIL 6, 2010- The nation's preterm birth rate dropped for the second consecutive year.

New nationwide statistics shows a 3 percent decline in the preterm birth rate, according to a report released today by the National Center for Health Statistics.

March of Dimes officials say they are encouraged and hope that the decline is a new trend in infant health. The data are based on 99.9 percent of U.S. births and the improvement must be confirmed in the final data.

"We're beginning to see the benefits of years of hard work by the March of Dimes and its partners. This decline, although small, is heartening," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "It means about 14,000 babies were spared the health risks of an early birth. We hope that this is just the beginning of what's possible, and that efforts such as health care reform and our programs to make woman and their doctors aware of things they can do to lower the risk of a preterm birth will continue to bear fruit in years to come."

The preterm birth rate dropped to 12.3 percent, according to the report, "Births: Preliminary Data for 2008," which was released today by the National Center for Heath Statistics. That's down from the 2007 preliminary rate of 12.7 percent. The declines follow a more than 20 percent increase in the preterm birth rate between 1990 and 2006.

Premature birth is a serious and costly problem, the March of Dimes says. Even with the decline in the preterm birth rate, more than a half million babies are born too soon in the United States each year, costing the nation more than $26 billion annually. Babies who survive an early birth often face lifelong health challenges, including cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and other chronic conditions. Even infants born "late preterm" - between 34 and 36 weeks gestation - have a greater risk of re-hospitalization, breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice, delayed brain development and learning problems.

The March of Dimes says 79 percent of the decline in the preterm birth rate occurred among late preterm babies.

There are known strategies that can lower the risk an early birth -- such as smoking cessation programs, progesterone treatments for women with a history of preterm birth, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments and avoiding unnecessary c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, CIGNA, Continental Airlines, Famous Footwear, FedEx, sanofi pasteur, First Response, and Mission Pharmacal. To join an event near you, visit marchforbabies.org. For more information, go to the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


U.S. Gets a "D" for Preterm Birth Rate

States Take Action to Reduce Risk Factors

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., NOV. 17, 2009 - For the second consecutive year, the United States earned only a "D" on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, demonstrating that more than half a million of our nation's newborns didn't get the healthy start they deserved.

In the 2009 Premature Birth Report card, seven states improved their performance by one letter grade and two fared worse. Criteria that affect preterm birth improved in many states:

  • 33 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;
  • 21 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percent of uninsured women of childbearing age;
  • 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico lowered the late preterm birth rate.

As in 2008, no state earned an "A," and only Vermont received a "B." The grades were determined by comparing preterm birth rates to the national Healthy People 2010 preterm birth objective, which is 7.6 percent of all live births. The U.S. preliminary preterm birth rate was 12.7 percent in 2007.

"Although we don't yet understand all the factors that contribute to premature birth, we do know some interventions that can help prevent it, and we must consistently make use of all of these," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes. She cited smoking cessation programs; health care before and during pregnancy; progesterone supplementation; and improved adherence to professional guidelines on fertility treatment and early Cesarean-sections and inductions.

According to the March of Dimes, quality improvement programs also are key to lowering preterm birth rates. For example, the Intermountain Health Program in Utah reduced its elective C-sections to less than 5 percent from more than 30 percent. At Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, pregnant women are screened for chronic conditions and risks factors that can be treated proactively to lower the risk of preterm birth.

A program run by the Hospital Corporation of America based in Tennessee, which delivers about 5 percent of all U.S. births in the 21 states it serves, reduced the primary C-section rate, lowered maternal and fetal injuries and reduced the cost of obstetric malpractice claims by 500 percent. Also, Parkland Memorial Hospital in Texas reduced its preterm birth rate to 4.9 percent in 2006 from 10.4 percent in 1988 by establishing a comprehensive, community-based public health care system of prenatal care that targets minority pregnant women.

In the United States, more than 540,000 babies are born too soon each year. Preterm birth 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, mental retardation and others. A March of Dimes report released in October found that 13 million babies worldwide were born preterm, and more than one million die each year.

The March of Dimes released its second annual report card today, the 7th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day®, when the March of Dimes focuses the nation's attention on the growing problem of premature birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation). A special Web site - marchofdimes.com/fightforpreemies - includes state profiles on prematurity and ways for volunteers to help reduce the premature rate.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, 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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Preterm Birth Rate Drops

March of Dimes Hopes It's the Start of a Long-Term Trend in Infant Health

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., MARCH 18, 2009 - The nation's preterm birth rate declined slightly in 2007-- a finding that the March of Dimes hopes will prove to be the start of a new trend in improved maternal and infant health.

The preterm birth rate declined for babies born at 34-36 weeks gestation (late preterm) and among babies born to African American and white women.

"We're encouraged by this drop in the preterm birth rate, and hope that the emphasis we've put on the problem of late preterm birth is beginning to make a difference," said Jennifer L. Howse, Ph.D., president of the March of Dimes. "Through our Prematurity Campaign, we can build on this success and begin to give more babies a healthy start in life."

The rate of preterm births (less than 37 weeks gestation) dropped to 12.7 percent from 12.8 percent in 2006, a small but statistically significant decrease, according to preliminary birth data for 2007 released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

(Editor's note: A chart showing one-year change in state preterm birth rates is attached.)

The preterm birth rate has increased by 36 percent since the 1980s, and despite the decline in the 2007 preterm birth rate, the number of babies born too soon continues to top more than 540,000 each year.

Preterm birth 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, mental retardation and others. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon (34-36 weeks gestation, also known as late preterm birth) have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies.

The March of Dimes has a four-point plan to help reduce the preterm birth rate in the United States, which calls for:

  1. A voluntarily review of all cesarean-section births and inductions of labor that occur before 39 weeks gestation, to ensure the meet established American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines regarding medical necessity of elective procedures.
  2. Expanded federal support for prematurity-related research to uncover the causes of premature birth, strategies for prevention, and improved care and outcomes for preterm infants.
  3. Policymakers to improve access to health coverage for women of childbearing age and to support smoking cessation programs as part of maternity care.
  4. Businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health, such as providing private areas to pump breast milk, access to flextime, and information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, 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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


States Expand Newborn Screening for Life-Threatening Disorders

New March of Dimes Report Finds State-By-State Gaps Nearly Eliminated

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., FEB. 18, 2009 - Regardless of where they are born in the United States, nearly all newborns now receive mandated screening for many life-threatening disorders, a remarkable public health advance of the last four years, according to a new report issued today by the March of Dimes.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia now require that every baby be screened for 21 or more of the 29 serious genetic or functional disorders on the uniform panel recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) and endorsed by the March of Dimes. If diagnosed early, these disorders can be successfully managed or treated to prevent death, disability, or other severe consequences such as mental retardation.

Although all states now have laws or rules that require the screening, as of December 31, 2008, Pennsylvania and West Virginia still must implement their expanded programs, according to the March of Dimes report card.

"Today we announce that expanded screening is required by the states for nearly 100 percent of the more than 4 million babies born each year in the U.S. The clear beneficiaries are babies and their families," said Jennifer L. Howse, PhD, president of the March of Dimes. "With the help of volunteers, parents and our partners, we have nearly erased the cruel injustice that sentenced babies to an undetected but treatable metabolic or functional condition based on their birth state. This is a success story."

"This is a sweeping advance for public health," said R. Rodney Howell, MD, chairman of the federal Health & Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children, (ACHDNC). "The March of Dimes and its chapters nationwide can be proud of their leadership role to essentially eliminate the geographic gaps in the state newborn screening safety net. Now, whether babies are screened and can get the immediate treatment they need to lead a healthy life no longer depends on the state in which they are born."

March of Dimes will maintain its watchdog role on newborn screening, said Dr. Howse, and will continue to promote consistent guidelines nationwide, and to advocate for funding for the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (P.L. 110-204). The intent of this legislation is to help improve state newborn screening programs by providing education for families and provide additional funding for follow-up and treatment for infants who test positive for disorders identified through screening.

The recent advent of tandem mass spectrometry provided the means to identify many conditions from one blood spot. In 2000, the March of Dimes recommended criteria for adding screens in an editorial published in Pediatrics and launched its advocacy efforts to require comprehensive newborn screening in every state at a time when most states screened for only four conditions. In 2005, the ACMG issued a report recommending that 29 screens be mandated for every newborn.

In 2005, the first year that the March of Dimes report card measured state-by-state requirements on expanded newborn screening, only 38 percent of infants were born in states that required screening for 21 or more of 29 core conditions. Today, as a result of years of intensive bi-partisan volunteer advocacy efforts led by March of Dimes chapters, nearly all babies born in the U.S. live in states that require screening for 21 or more of these treatable disorders. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia require screening for all 29 disorders, with more states expected to join them this year. In fact, 46 states and the District of Columbia screen for 26 or more of these conditions.

"Newborn screening saved Giana's life," said David Swift, of California, whose daughter was diagnosed with 3MCC (3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase deficiency) because of newborn screening. "It was only thanks to March of Dimes advocacy efforts that the hospital Giana was born in was part of a pilot program to expand newborn screening in California."

3MCC is a serious disorder that leaves newborns unable to metabolize leucine - an essential amino acid found in many forms of protein. But because Giana, now age six, was diagnosed early, she was put on a special diet and is living a relatively normal life.

Newborn screening is done by testing a few drops of blood, usually from a newborn's heel, before hospital discharge. A positive result does not always mean the infant has a disorder. If a screening result is positive, the infant is referred for additional testing, and if the diagnosis is confirmed, and given treatment as soon as possible.

Parents can find information about the recommended newborn screening tests at the March of Dimes Web site: marchofdimes.com/nbs.

The March of Dimes Newborn Screening Report Card details state-by-state newborn screening requirements. The March of Dimes contracts with the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center to collect the data.

The ACMG recommendation to screen for 29 conditions has been endorsed by clinicians and researchers alike, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the ACHDNC. Both the March of Dimes and the AAP have called for national newborn screening guidelines as well as federal funding to help states improve their programs and help affected families receive needed services.

A list of which screening tests are provided by each state can be found on the March of Dimes Web site at http://marchofdimes.com/peristats, which is updated regularly, or at the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center Web site at http://genes-r-us.uthscsa.edu.

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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Preterm Births Rise 36 Percent Since Early 1980s

Late Preterm Infants Drive the Increase

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JAN. 7, 2009 - New government statistics confirm that the decades-long rise in the United States preterm birth rate continues, putting more infants than ever at increased risk of death and disability.

Nearly 543,000 babies were born too soon in 2006, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which today released "Births: Final data for 2006," National Vital Statistics Reports; Vol. 57, No. 7. The nation's preterm birth rate (birth before 37 completed weeks gestation) rose to 12.8 percent in 2006 -- that's a 36 percent increase since the early 1980s.

The report attributed much of the increase to the growing number of late preterm infants (those born at 34 to 36 weeks gestation), which increased 25 percent since 1990. The report also noted an increase in preterm births to Hispanic women, while rates were unchanged for non-Hispanic whites and blacks. However, black women continue to have the highest preterm birth rate, at 18.5 percent.

The preterm birth rate continued to rise despite the fact that multiple births, a known risk factor for preterm birth, have begun to stabilize. The rate of twin births was unchanged in 2005 and 2006, and triplets and higher order multiples declined 5 percent in 2006.

"The health consequences for babies who survive an early birth can be devastating and we know that preterm birth exacts a toll on the entire family - emotionally and financially," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

"We've are committed to raising public awareness about premature birth, and we believe there are concrete steps we can take to solve this problem, including ensuring that all women of childbearing age have access to health insurance and expanding our nation's investment in research into the causes and strategies to prevent preterm birth" Dr. Howse continued.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in the first month of life and a contributing cause in more than a third of all infant deaths. Babies who survive an early birth face the risk of serious lifelong health problems and even late preterm infants have a greater risk of breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice, delayed brain development and an increased risk of cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

Last month, the March of Dimes issued its first-ever Premature Birth Report Card, which gave the United States a "D" -- and not a single "A" to any state -- by comparing 2005 preterm birth rates to the national Healthy People 2010 objective of 7.6 percent. The report card is online at www.marchofdimes.com/petition.

Click here for State Preterm Birth Rates, 1990 and 2006 and US Preterm Birth Rate Map, 2006.

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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Babies Born Just a Few Weeks Too Soon at Greater Risk of Cerebral Palsy and Other Developmental Delays

WHITE PLAINS, NY, DEC. 11, 2008- Babies born just a few weeks prematurely are more than three times as likely to have cerebral palsy than full-term infants- adding to the mounting evidence that the last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a child's health and development.

The research, "Increased Risk of Adverse Neurological Development for Late Preterm Infants," by Petrini et. al. was published online today by the Journal of Pediatrics. The authors also found that late preterm infants, (those born 34-36 weeks gestation), had a higher risk of developmental delays than babies born full-term.

The team of researchers from the March of Dimes, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Columbia University and the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed the medical records of more than 140,000 children born in California between January 2000 and June 2004 who had at least one follow-up doctor visit. These children had health insurance coverage through the Kaiser system and as a result had access to preventive care, diagnostic tests and treatments."

The earlier an infant was born, the higher the risk of some neuro-developmental problems, the researchers found. For example, infants born between 30 and 33 weeks gestation were nearly eight times as likely as full-term infants to have cerebral palsy.

"The significantly higher rates of cerebral palsy and developmental delays for late preterm babies were surprising," said Joann Petrini, PhD, director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center and lead author of the study. "Our research adds to the growing body of evidence showing that being born just a few weeks too soon can have lasting consequences that can no longer be described as temporary or benign. These findings reinforce the March of Dimes message that a few extra weeks of pregnancy can have a beneficial effect on an infant's health."

"Since brain development continues through the first year, these findings suggest that some late preterm infants may benefit from neurological assessments by their pediatricians to determine whether there is a need for specialized services," said Gabriel Escobar, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. and a co-author of the study. "Future research should focus on how at-risk late preterm infants can be identified sooner, as neurological screening of all late preterm infants is not feasible."

More than half a million babies are born too soon each year in the United States and the rate of premature birth has increased almost 20 percent since 1990. Late preterm babies account for more than 70 percent of all preterm births and for the majority of the increase in preterm birth rates during the past two decades. Late preterm infants have a greater risk of breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice, delayed brain development and death than babies born at term. This new analysis shows that these late preterm infants also have three times the risk of cerebral palsy and a slightly higher risk of mental retardation.

Exactly what causes the increased risk of cerebral palsy and neuro-developmental delays in late preterm infants cannot be determined from this study, and should be the subject of future research, the investigators said. However, there are several theories, including risk factors during the pregnancy that may contribute to damage in utero, or complications related to the preterm birth.

The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research conducts, publishes and disseminates epidemiologic and health services research to improve the health and medical care of Kaiser Permanente members and the society at large. It seeks to understand the determinants of illness and well-being and to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Currently, DOR's 400-plus staff is working on more than 250 epidemiological and health services research projects.

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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Nation Gets a "D" as March of Dimes Releases Premature Birth Report Card

18 States, Puerto Rico and DC Failed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., NOV. 12, 2008 - The United States is failing hundreds of thousands of its youngest citizens on the day they are born, according to the March of Dimes.

In the first of what will be an annual Premature Birth Report Card, the nation received a "D" and not a single state earned an "A," when the March of Dimes compared actual preterm birth rates to the national Healthy People 2010 objective.

The only state to earn a "B" was Vermont. Eight others earned a "C," 23 states earned a "D," and 18 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia got failing grades of "F."

"It is unacceptable that our nation is failing so many preterm babies," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "We are determined to find and implement solutions to prevent preterm birth, based on research, best clinical practices, and improved education for moms."

November 12 marks the nation's 6th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day, a time when the March of Dimes mobilizes volunteers and parents to draw attention to premature birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation), which affects more than 530,000 babies each year in the United States. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and a major cause of lifelong disability.

In this election year, the March of Dimes invites all Americans to help send a message to our new President and to federal and state lawmakers by signing the 2008 Petition for Preemies at marchofdimes.com/petition.

In addition to providing state rankings, the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card analyzes several contributing factors and prevention opportunities, including rates of late preterm birth, smoking, and uninsured women of childbearing age. The purpose is to raise public awareness of the growing crisis of preterm birth so elected and appointed officials will commit more resources to address this problem and policymakers will support development of strategies that benefit mothers and babies.

The Report Card also is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Women's Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the National Business Group on Health, the American Benefits Council and dozens of other business and maternal and infant health organizations.

The Report Card also calls for:

  • Expanded federal support for prematurity-related research to uncover the causes of premature birth and lead not only to strategies for prevention, but also improved care and outcomes for preterm infants.
  • Hospital leaders to voluntarily review all Cesarean-section births and inductions of labor that occur before 39 weeks gestation, in an effort to reverse America?s rising preterm birth rate. The review should ensure that all c-sections and inductions meet established professional guidelines.
  • Policymakers to improve access to health coverage for women of childbearing age and to support smoking cessation programs as part of maternity care.
  • Businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health, such as providing private areas to pump breast milk, access to flextime, and information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

The National Healthy People 2010 preterm birth objective is to lower the rate to 7.6 percent of all live births. Latest available data (2005) show that the national preterm birth rate is 12.7 percent.

"Employers can play a key role in helping their employees and dependents have healthy babies and healthy families," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. "The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card provides guidance on best practices that can help any size business."

The March of Dimes says that in 2009, Report Card grades will reflect state actions taken that have the potential to reduce preterm birth rates in future years.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in the first month of life in the United States. The preterm birth rate has increased more than 20 percent since 1990, and costs the nation more than $26 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine report issued in July 2006.

Babies who survive a premature birth face the risk of serious life-long health problems including learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, and other chronic conditions including asthma. Even infants born just a few weeks too soon have a greater risk of breathing problems, feeding difficulties, hypothermia (temperature instability), jaundice and delayed brain development.

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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Preterm Birth Contributes to Growing Number of Infant Deaths

More than 28,000 Infants Died in 2005

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JULY 29, 2008 - Babies born too soon and too small accounted for a growing proportion of infant deaths, according to new statistics released today from the National Center for Health Statistics, (NCHS).

Babies who died of preterm-related causes accounted for 36.5 percent of infant deaths in 2005, up from 34.6 percent in 2000, according to "Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2005 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set," Vol. 57, No. 2, of the National Vital Statistics Report, released today by the NCHS.

The nation's infant mortality rate inched up slightly in 2005 to 6.9, from 6.8 per 1,000 live births in 2004, although the change is not statistically significant, according to the report. While the infant mortality rate dropped more than 9 percent between 1995 and 2005, the changes since 2000 have not been statistically significant.

"Essentially, there has been no improvement in the infant death rate since 2000, and the increase in the proportion of infants who die from preterm-related causes is troubling," said Joann Petrini, Ph.D., director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center. "Preventing preterm birth is crucial to reducing the nation's infant mortality rate and giving every baby a healthy start in life."

More than a half million babies are born premature (less than 37 weeks gestation) each year and those who survive face the risk of life long health consequences, such as breathing and feeding problems, cerebral palsy, and learning problems.

Mortality rates for infants born even a few weeks early, or "late preterm" (between 34-36 weeks of gestation) were three times those for full-term infants.

The NCHS report found that the mortality rate for very low birthweight infants (those weighing less than 1,500 grams or three and a third pounds) has not changed since 2000, despite rapid improvement between 1983 and 2000. The mortality rate for this group of infants was more than 100 times the rate for normal birthweights infants (at or more than 2,500 grams or five and half pounds).

Low birthweight and preterm birth are leading causes of infant mortality and the rates of both have increased steadily since the mid-1980s. The rise in multiple births from the increased use of assisted reproductive technology and increases in cesarean sections and inductions of labor for preterm infants have contributed to this increase.

The March of Dimes remains committed to preventing preterm birth and has extended its Prematurity Campaign by 10 years to 2020 and pledged to address preterm birth globally. The expansion, announced in June at the Surgeon General's Conference on Prevention of Preterm Birth, supports the national action plan created during the two-day conference that addressed the growing crisis 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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.

Additional resources:

State Infant Mortality Rates 2000 and 2005

US Infant Mortality Map 2005


C- Sections a Critical Factor in Preterm Birth Increase

Some C-Sections May Not Be Medically Necessary, March of Dimes Says

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., MAY 28, 2008 - Cesarean sections account for nearly all of the increase in U.S. singleton preterm births, according to an analysis of nine years of national birth data.

Between 1996 and 2004 there was an increase of nearly 60,000 singleton preterm births and 92 percent of those infants were delivered by a cesarean section, (c-section), according to research by investigators from the March of Dimes and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will be published in the June issue of Clinics in Perinatology. While singleton preterm births increased by about 10 percent during this time, the c-section rate for this group increased by 36 percent.

Preterm birth is a serious and costly health concern and is the leading cause of death in the first month of life. More than 520,000 babies - one out of every eight - are born too soon each year in the United States.

Late preterm babies, those born 34-36 weeks gestation, account for most of the increase in the US singleton preterm birth rate. These infants have a greater risk of breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice, delayed brain development and death than babies born at term. This new analysis shows that that these late preterm infants had the largest increase in c-section deliveries.

"While maternal and fetal complications during pregnancy may result in the need for a c-section, we're concerned that some early c-section deliveries may be occurring for non-medically indicated reasons," said Alan R. Fleischman, M.D., the March of Dimes medical director and senior vice president. "We need research to determine how many c-sections that result in preterm babies are not medically indicated and may place both mother and baby at risk for little or no medical benefit."

C-sections are the most common major surgical procedure for women. More than 30 percent of the 4.1 million U.S. live births are delivered via c-section and the rate has increased dramatically since 1996. A c-section delivery can be lifesaving when there are complications during pregnancy, but it is a major operation with potential risks to the mother from the surgery and anesthesia and to the baby, if the delivery occurs too soon. The March of Dimes is concerned that some early deliveries may occur without good medical justification and may be done at the request of the mother or based on an inappropriate recommendation from the doctor.

"The Relationship Between Cesarean Delivery and Gestational Age Among US Singleton Births," by Bettegowda VR. et al. will be published in Clinics in Perinatology, Vol. 35.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for BabiesSM , 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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


Analysis of Millions of U.S. Births Shows Association Between Birth Defects and Preterm Birth

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., MAY 21, 2008 - Babies born preterm were more than twice as likely to have major birth defects as full-term infants, according to a new analysis of nearly 7 million U.S. live births published online this week in the Springer journal Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Preterm birth, live birth before 37 completed weeks gestation, is a growing national health crisis, according to the March of Dimes. More than a half million babies are born too soon each year, and the rate continues to rise. Birth defects and preterm birth are the leading causes of infant death.

About 8 percent of babies born preterm had a birth defect, according to the research by a team of investigators from the March of Dimes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and several other major institutions.

For this study, the researchers looked at live births between 1995 and 2000 from 13 states, representing about 30 percent of all U.S. births. The findings supported those of earlier, smaller studies.

"The causes of most birth defects are still not known," says Margaret Honein, PhD, MPH of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and lead author of the study. "While it is likely that the most common defects are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, the identification of specific risk factors continues to be a major research and public health priority."

Research into the link between birth defects and preterm birth was called for in the PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450) that was signed into law in December 2006. The act, which authorized increased federal support for research and education on prematurity, also called for a Surgeon General's Conference, scheduled for June 2008, to establish a public-private agenda on premature birth.

"Infants born preterm were more than twice as likely to have major birth defects as infants born at term, and the association was strongest among very preterm babies," said Joann Petrini, PhD, MPH, director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, who also co-authored the study. "This study highlights the importance of understanding the possible shared causes and risk factors that lead to preterm birth among those infants affected by major birth defects."

Very preterm babies, those born between 24 and 31 weeks gestation, were five times as likely as full-term infants to have a birth defect. The most common birth defects for this group were central nervous system defects, such as spina bifida, and cardiovascular defects, such as a hole in the heart.

"The Association Between Major Birth Defects and Preterm Birth" by Honein, et al. was published online this week at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-008-0348-y. The article is available free of charge.

Springer Science+Business Media (www.springer.com) is one of the world's leading suppliers of scientific and specialist literature. It is the second-largest publisher of journals in the science, technology, and medicine (STM) sector and the largest publisher of STM books. The group publishes more than 1,700 journals and more than 5,500 new books a year, as well as the largest STM eBook Collection worldwide.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for BabiesSM , 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. And for detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.


More Babies Born Prematurely, New Report Shows

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., DECEMBER 5, 2007 - The preterm birth rate rose again in 2005 and preliminary data for 2006 show a continued increase, underscoring the urgent need for a sustained, comprehensive plan to address this growing crisis.

"The more we learn about the terrible consequences of an early birth, the more determined the March of Dimes is to understand what causes preterm birth and how it can be prevented," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "That's why we are supporting a U.S. Surgeon General's conference for 2008 to bring together experts and develop a national agenda to prevent preterm labor and delivery."

Today, the National Center for Health Statistics released final birth data for 2005 showing that the preterm birth rate, the percentage of babies born at less than 37 weeks gestation, is continuing its relentless rise, with more than 525,000 babies, or 12.7 percent, born prematurely. That's up from 12.5 percent in 2004 and the 2006 preliminary report indicates that the preterm birth rate will continue its upward trend and reach 12.8 percent, about 543,000 babies.

The preterm birth rate has increased more than 20 percent since 1990. The data can be found at www.cdc.gov/nchs.

Prematurity is the leading cause of death in the first month of life, and even late preterm infants have a greater risk of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and delayed brain development.

In 2005, preterm birth costs the nation more than $26.2 billion in medical and educational costs and lost productivity. Average first year medical costs were about 10 times greater for preterm than for term infants.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


Nearly 90% of Babies Receive Recommended Newborn Screening Tests

State Programs Expand, But Half a Million Babies Still Not Screened for Serious Genetic Disorders

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JULY 11, 2007 - Nearly 90 percent of all babies born in the United States - more than double the percentage in 2005 - live in states that require screening for at least 21 life-threatening disorders, according to the latest March of Dimes Newborn Screening Report Card.

The March of Dimes endorsed the 2004 report of the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) that calls for every baby born in the U.S. to be screened for 29 genetic or functional disorders. If diagnosed early, all of these devastating conditions can be successfully managed or treated to prevent severe consequences.

Two years ago, only 38 percent of infants were born in states that required screening for at least 21 of these 29 core conditions. As a result of four years of intensive advocacy efforts by March of Dimes chapters and their partners, that percentage has increased to 87.5, or about 3.6 million babies.

"While this important expansion of newborn screening is very good news for families, the lives of 500,000 newborns who still aren't tested hang in the balance," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "Despite the pleas of parents, clinicians and advocacy groups the United States still lacks consistent federal guidelines for newborn screening. Babies must be screened, to receive immediate treatment necessary to survive and lead healthy lives. The lack of federal guidelines makes it difficult for states to get support for needed legislation."

In states that do not follow the ACMG recommendations, the March of Dimes staff and volunteers continue to work with governors, legislatures, and parent groups to advocate for expanded newborn screening on a state-by-state basis. In Pennsylvania, newborn screening is offered at most hospitals, but it is not required by law. Therefore it is not a guarantee and, potentially, screening could be eliminated or reduced.

Massachusetts had been a leader in newborn screening when, in the early 1960s, it became the first state to routinely screen all newborns for PKU (phenylketonuria), an inherited metabolic disorder that, if untreated, causes severe mental retardation. But today Massachusetts requires screening for only 12 of the 29 core conditions. Nationwide, a discouraging 6.1 percent of babies are born in states that required screening for only 10 to 20 of the core conditions and 6.2 percent of newborns will get screening for fewer than 10 conditions. Disparities in state newborn screening programs mean some babies may die or develop brain damage or other severe complications because they are not identified in time for effective treatment, said Dr. Howse.

"All babies across America should receive the benefits of being screened for all of these 29 treatable conditions," said Dr. Howse.

At present, 13 states and the District of Columbia require screening for all 29 core, treatable, conditions. While most states are working to meet that goal, Montana, Kansas and West Virginia, enacted legislation this year requiring all babies be screened for all of the core conditions. Their programs will be implemented next year.

Other states overcame remarkable challenges in order to provide for the health of their smallest citizens. For example, Louisiana, which still is recovering from the devastating hurricanes of 2005, requires screening for 28 of the core conditions.

This is the fifth consecutive year the March of Dimes has analyzed state-by-state newborn screening requirements, creating a snapshot of the nation's progress toward improving the health of newborns. The March of Dimes contracted with the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center to survey each state's newborn screening requirements.

The snapshot shows that the nation is on target to meet the March of Dimes goal of having all babies screened for 20 or more of the recommended panel of genetic disorders by 2008.

Federal Advocacy Efforts

The March of Dimes supports two pieces of federal legislation, the "Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act," sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), and the "Screening For Health of Infants and Newborns (SHINE) Act of 2007," sponsored by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-NY). These bills would lay the groundwork for national guidelines and authorize funding for several new federal initiatives designed to increase educational resources for parents and health care providers, improve follow-up care for infants, provide assistance to states expanding and improving their newborn screening programs and develop new screening tools for additional life-threatening disorders.

"We call on Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to help give all babies a fighting chance for a healthy life through expanded newborn screening," said Dr. Howse.

The ACMG recommendation to screen for 29 conditions has been endorsed by clinicians and researchers alike, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the federal Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders and Genetic Diseases in Newborns and Children. Both the March of Dimes and the AAP have called for a national newborn screening guidelines as well as federal funding to help states improve their screening programs. Information for Consumers

A list of which screening tests are provided by each state can be found on the "Peristats" section of the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com/peristats, which is updated regularly, or at the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center Web site at genes-r-us.uthscsa.edu.

Regardless of how many screening tests are mandated by individual states, parents and health professionals should be fully informed of the benefits and availability of comprehensive newborn screening, Dr. Howse said. It is also advisable for parents to receive information on screening tests for those conditions for which treatment is not yet available. Newborn screening is done by testing a few drops of blood, usually from a newborn's heel, before hospital discharge. A positive result does not always mean the infant has the disorder. If a screening result is positive, the infant is re-tested and then given treatment as soon as possible, before becoming seriously ill from the condition. Parents can find a brochure about the recommended newborn screening tests online at the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com/nbs.

Those who live in states where newborn screening is limited can arrange privately for additional tests, often at additional expense to the family or health plan. Parents should check with their doctor or their state health department for a list of providers of these screening tests.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


March of Dimes Study Unveils New Data on the Cost of Having a Baby

Washington, D.C., June 12, 2007: For women insured through large employer private plans, the average cost of having a baby in the United States in 2004 was more than $8,000, a study released today by the March of Dimes Foundation revealed. The study, "The Healthcare Costs of Having a Baby," was commissioned by the Foundation to estimate expenditures for maternity care by large employer private plans and was conducted by Thomson Healthcare.

"This in-depth analysis of health claims from more than 10 million employees, spouses and dependents is an important contribution and demonstrates the value of access to comprehensive, affordable health insurance for women of childbearing age. Having a baby is the most costly health event families are likely to experience during their childbearing years and health insurance is central to obtaining maternity care services critical to the health of the woman and that of her newborn. An uninsured healthy pregnancy can be a financial strain on young families, and a catastrophe in the case of a high-risk birth," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

In its analysis, Thomson combined the costs of prenatal care, labor and delivery as well as post-partum care provided during the three months following delivery and found that employer based insurance covered approximately 95 percent of the costs of maternity care.

Significant findings include:

  • Average expenditures for maternity care were $7,737 for vaginal delivery, of which about $7,205 was paid by private health plans and $463 in out of pocket costs was paid by the family..
  • Average expenditures for maternity care were $10,958 for cesarean-section delivery, of which about $10,324 was paid by private health plans and $523 in out-of-pocket costs paid by the family.
  • Vaginal delivery costs were distributed in the following way: 48% facility fees; 36% professional service fees; 8% radiology and imaging; 5% outpatient drug; and 4% laboratory.
  • Cesarean-section delivery costs were distributed in the following way: 53% facility fees; 32% professional service fees; 7% radiology and imaging; 4% outpatient drug; and 3% laboratory.
  • It is most expensive to have a baby in the northeast, least expensive in the south and the same pattern holds for cesarean-section & vaginal deliveries. Average expenditures for vaginal delivery by geographical region were $8,718 in the northeast, $7,455 in the south, $7,501 in the north central, and $7,880 in the west.
  • Average expenditures for cesarean-section delivery were $12,175 in the northeast, $10,317 in the south, $10,969 in the north central, and $11,581 in the west.

"While most women obtain their health coverage through private, employer sponsored plans, more than 40 percent of women rely on publicly financed programs including Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for their maternity coverage. However, enrolling income eligible women age 19 and older in SCHIP requires a federal waiver, an unnecessarily cumbersome administrative step that states must take. Because we at the March of Dimes believe every woman and her infant should have health insurance we are working with a broad bipartisan group of Members of Congress to add a provision to the SCHIP reauthorization bill that will give states the option to enroll income eligible pregnant women in the program without having to obtain a waiver." said Dr. Howse.

Another study, released by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation at a joint briefing with the March of Dimes today, found that, unlike well-child care or mammography, prenatal care was generally not considered a preventive service in the plans reviewed by the researchers. As a result, these consumer directed health plans impose cost sharing and high deductibles on prenatal care services.

"It is well documented that lack of adequate, regular prenatal care is associated with poor birth outcomes, including prematurity and low birthweight and such out of pocket expenditures for cost sharing may well discourage women from obtaining the care they need to prevent these and other high risk and costly conditions. The study finding is troubling and signals the need for additional research to determine whether the practice of excluding prenatal care from the list of preventive benefits is widespread among consumer directed health plans." Dr. Howse continued.

Both studies were released at a policy forum in Washington, D.C. that included Dr. Howse; Diane Rowland, ScD, Kaiser Family Foundation executive vice president, Alina Salganicoff, PhD, Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of Women's Health Policy; Stella Chang, Associate Director for MarketScan, Thomson Healthcare; Karen Pollitz, project director at the Georgetown Health Policy Institute; Tom Wilder, Senior Regulatory Counsel at America's Health Insurance Plans; and Lisa Potetz, principal at Health Policy Alternatives, Inc.

Materials from the forum, including a webcast, will be available at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/healthcast/kff/12jun07.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


Preterm Birth Contributes To More Than One-Third of Infant Deaths

Nearly 28,000 U.S. Infants Died in 2004

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 2, 2007 - Preterm birth contributes to more than one-third of all infant deaths, according to the National Vital Statistics report released today.

Although the national infant mortality rate is the lowest it's been since the U.S. started collecting data a century ago, there's been little change recently - 6.78 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2004 compared to 6.89 in 2000, the National Center for Health Statistics report found.

The report, "Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2004 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set" includes a new analysis tracking preterm birth-related infant deaths. The analysis, first published in the October 2006 edition of Pediatrics, found preterm birth contributes to nearly twice as many infant deaths within the first year of life than previously estimated.

"We have long known babies born too soon face many developmental challenges - even death," said Joann Petrini, Ph.D., director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center. "This closer look at preterm birth gives us a better understanding of the impact of prematurity on infant survival and provides insights into the factors that have contributed to the lack of improvement in the U.S. infant mortality rate."

Preterm related deaths accounted for more than 10,000 of the nearly 28,000 infant deaths in 2004, according to the NCHS. Birth defects remain the leading cause of infant death, followed by prematurity, according to official reporting systems. But, using this new classification, premature birth would be the most frequent cause of infant death. The traditional methods cannot accurately gauge the true impact of preterm birth on the infant mortality rate, the NCHS said.

The new method reviews all causes of infant death and combines conditions, such as respiratory distress syndrome, which frequently occur in premature babies. The analysis published in October 2006 looked at only the top 20 leading causes of infant death.

More than a half million babies are born too soon each year and the preterm birth rate has increased more than 30 percent since 1981. Babies who do survive face risks of lifelong health and developmental challenges.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


New State Perinatal Data Snapshots

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., APRIL 12, 2007 - The March of Dimes now provides a new series of documents intended to summarize maternal and infant health information for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US.

Each "Perinatal Data Snapshot" includes six pages of information on births, birth outcomes, risk indicators, birth defects, health insurance and poverty. Formatted as a PDF, pages can be downloaded individually or a as a complete report. The 52 documents can be found under "State Summaries" on the PeriStats web site home page, or under the "Perinatal Overview" topic for each state. The new series will be updated 2-3 times a year. If you have any questions, please contact the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center at peristats@marchofdimes.com.


Institute of Medicine Prematurity Report

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JULY 13, 2006 - The severe health consequences and extraordinary medical costs associated with prematurity are documented in a new report, "Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention."

Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, said the March of Dimes supports the three major IOM recommendations contained in the report, which are 1) establish multidisciplinary research centers; 2) set priorities for research; and 3) study and inform public policy on preterm birth.

The March of Dimes agrees that prenatal care is vital to identifying risks associated with preterm birth, and supports the IOM suggestion that routine ultrasound be performed early in pregnancy to accurately establish gestational age in order to improve obstetric care and avoid inadvertent early deliveries.

More than a half million babies are born prematurely (less than 37 completed weeks gestation) each year in the United States and the problem continues to grow -- the preterm birth rate has increased by more than 30 percent since 1981. Thousands of these babies do not live to see their first birthday each year. Babies who survive face risks of lifelong challenges of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, and vision and hearing loss and other developmental problems. The IOM report estimates preterm birth costs the United States more than $26.2 billion in 2005 in terms of medical care, lost household and labor market productivity, and early intervention and education services.

The IOM study was co-sponsored by the March of Dimes and other national organizations concerned with maternal and infant health. The report adds urgency to the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, and stresses that preterm birth is a complex problem that can only be prevented by a sustained, comprehensive research agenda.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


Nearly Two-Thirds of Babies Receive Most of the Recommended Newborn Screening Tests

State Programs Expand, But More Than a Million Babies Not Screened for Core Panel of Disorders

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JULY 11, 2006 - Nearly two-thirds of all babies born in the United States this year will be screened for more than 20 life-threatening disorders - at nearly twice the rate as in 2005, according to the latest March of Dimes Newborn Screening Report Card.

However, disparities in state newborn screening programs mean some babies will die or develop brain damage or other severe complications from these disorders because they are not identified in time for effective treatment, the March of Dimes says. The March of Dimes and the American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed the recommendation of the American College of Medical Genetics that calls for every baby born in the United States to be screened for 29 disorders, including certain metabolic conditions and hearing deficiency. If diagnosed early, all of these conditions can be successfully managed or treated to prevent severe consequences.

"All babies across America should receive the benefits of being screened for all of these 29 core conditions. Whether babies are screened and get the immediate treatment necessary to lead a healthy life should not depend on which state they are born in," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

Dr. Howse noted that the U.S. lacks consistent national guidelines for newborn screening. Each state decides how many and which screening tests are required for every baby. Only 5 states - Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia - and the District of Columbia have comprehensive newborn screening programs requiring all newborns be screened for all 29 disorders. That means only 9 percent of all babies are screened for all of the conditions. Last year, only Mississippi provided screening for this uniform panel.

But, Dr. Howse pointed out, more than a million of the 4 million babies born this year will not be screened for all of these treatable disorders.

Last year, only 23 states, covering only 38 percent of the babies born in the U.S., screened for more than 20 of the conditions. This year, the numbers skyrocketed: As of June 1, 2006, 31 states, covering more than 64 percent of all babies, screened for more than 20 of the conditions.

This is the fourth consecutive year the March of Dimes has analyzed state-by-state newborn screening requirements, creating a snapshot of the nation's progress toward improving the health of newborns.

The March of Dimes report card groups states into three categories - red states, which screen for fewer than 10 conditions; yellow states, which screen for 10-20 of the conditions, and green states, which screen for more than 20 conditions.

This year, the District of Columbia and four states - California, Utah, Kentucky and Florida - went from red, the lowest category, to green, the best. Three other states - Virginia, Missouri and Maine - added enough screening tests to move from yellow to green, while Nebraska, Louisiana and New Hampshire went from red to yellow.

"Our goal is to turn the entire map green so that all babies are treated equally, regardless of where they are born," said Dr. Howse.

State and Federal Advocacy Efforts

"Our advocacy efforts are continuing at the state and federal levels," Dr. Howse said. "We have endorsed the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). And we urge Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to endorse the American College of Medical Genetics' recommendation so all babies have a fighting chance at a healthy life. For infants affected by these conditions, these screening tests can mean the difference between life and death, or health and lifelong disability."

The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act calls for $15 million in funding to educate parents and health care providers about newborn screening, improve follow-up care for infants with an illness detected through newborn screening, and help states expand and improve their newborn screening programs.

The ACMG recommendation for expanded newborn screening for 29 conditions has been endorsed by clinicians and researchers alike, as well as the federal Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders and Genetic Diseases in Newborns and Children. Both the March of Dimes and the AAP have called for a national newborn screening standard as well as federal funding to help states implement the screening programs.

Information for Consumers

Newborn screening is done by testing a few drops of blood, usually from a newborn's heel, before hospital discharge. A positive result does not always mean the infant has the disorder. If a screening result is positive, the infant is re-tested and then given treatment as soon as possible, before becoming seriously ill from the condition.

Regardless of how many screening tests their state performs, parents and health professionals should be fully informed of the benefits and availability of comprehensive newborn screening, Dr. Howse said.

Parents can find a brochure about the recommended newborn screening tests online at the March of Dimes Web site at: www.marchofdimes.com/nbs.

A list of which screening tests are provided by each state also can be found on the Peristats section of the March of Dimes Web site at www.marchofdimes.com/peristats, which is updated regularly, or at the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center Web site at genes-r-us.uthscsa.edu.

Those who live in states where newborn screening is limited can arrange for additional tests, but these often come at additional expense. Parents should check with their doctor or their state health department for a list of providers of these screening tests.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


Typical Pregnancy is Now Only 39 Weeks

Late Preterm Births Increase

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., MARCH 23, 2006 - The most common length of pregnancy in the United States is now 39 weeks, a week shorter than the traditional definition of a full-term pregnancy. This shift occurred between 1992 and 2002, according to a new analysis by the March of Dimes published this month in a special supplement of the journal Seminars in Perinatology.

In 2002, one-quarter of all singleton babies were born full term at 39 weeks. Births at or after 40 weeks decreased by nearly 21 percent. During the decade studied, there was also a 12 percent increase in births occurring between 34 and 36 weeks, referred to as "late preterm births" (sometimes called "near-term births").

"Late preterm infants are a growing concern," said Nancy Green, M.D., medical director of the March of Dimes. "Some babies born just a few weeks early need medical and nursing attention beyond that given to full term newborns. They have a greater likelihood of breathing problems like respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and reduced brain development than full-term babies."

The March of Dimes analysis suggests that increasing rates of Cesarean section deliveries and induced labor have probably contributed to, but do not completely explain these shifts in deliveries, said Michael Davidoff, Manager of Informatics, Research and Development at the March of Dimes and the paper's lead author.

Clinicians weigh the risk for the mother and the fetus of continuing a medically complicated pregnancy, versus the risks associated with earlier delivery. For some high-risk pregnancies, early delivery may promote better outcomes for both the mother and the baby. The availability of more data on the outcomes of late preterm births will better inform providers and the public about potentially preventable risks. Pregnancies should continue to term if medically and obstetrically advisable, thereby avoiding unnecessary preterm inductions and c-sections.

The March of Dimes study, "Changes in Gestational Age Distribution Among U.S. Singleton Births: Impact on Rates of Late Preterm Birth, 1992 to 2002," was one of the research papers presented at a symposium addressing late preterm birth in July 2005, hosted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. The scientific meeting focused on definitions, trends and complications faced by late preterm babies. These studies are published in a Seminars in Perinatology special supplement on late preterm birth.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


New March of Dimes report on Hispanic Preterm Births

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., NOV. 1, 2005 -- The March of Dimes has released a new report highlighting the impact of prematurity on the U.S. Hispanic population. The report, Born Too Soon: Prematurity in the U.S. Hispanic Population, has been released in both English and Spanish.


Progesterone Therapy for Some High Risk Pregnant Women Could Prevent Thousands of Premature Births

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JAN. 31, 2005 - Nearly 10,000 preterm births could have been prevented in 2002 if all pregnant women at high risk for a premature baby and eligible for weekly injections of a derivative of the hormone progesterone had received them, according to a new study published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The result would have been a reduction in the overall rate of preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks gestation) in the United States of about 2 percent -- from the 2002 rate of 12.1 percent to 11.8 percent -- say Joann R. Petrini, Ph.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the March of Dimes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Maimonides Medical Center in New York, and the New Jersey and Missouri State Departments of Health who participated in the analyses.

The hormone derivative is known as 17P, short for 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate.

"Two percent would be a modest reduction in the preterm birth rate, but preventing 10,000 premature births would be very significant," said Dr. Petrini. "Prematurity is a serious problem that affects 1 in 8 babies in the U.S., and 17P offers promise in an area where there have been few successes. In addition, we need more research into the underlying causes of prematurity to help women with other risk factors."

Assumptions used to estimate the impact of 17P on recurrent preterm birth were based on criteria from the promising findings of the clinical trial reported by Paul J. Meis, M.D., et al. for the NICHD Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network in The New England Journal of Medicine on June 12, 2003. These study results led to the 2003 Committee Opinion issued by the American College of Obstetrician's and Gynecologists, published in the October 2003 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology,.

In the NICHD MFMU study, the use of 17P was restricted to women with singleton pregnancies and a documented history of a previous spontaneous preterm birth, who initiated prenatal care between 16 and 20 weeks gestation. When this protocol was followed, the risk of preterm birth to these eligible women was reduced by about one-third.

The authors of today's paper estimated that in 2002, about 30,000 recurrent preterm births occurred to women who were eligible for 17P, based on a spontaneous preterm birth recurrence rate of about 22 percent.

The ACOG Committee Opinion urges more research on the role of preventing preterm birth and reminds physicians that, until new results are available, to restrict the use of 17P to pregnant women with a history of spontaneous preterm birth, singleton gestation, who start prenatal care between 16-20 weeks of pregnancy.

Premature birth is a common, serious, and growing problem in the United States, the March of Dimes says. The rate of premature birth in the United States has risen 29 percent since 1981, with more than 470,000 babies born prematurely each year.

"Estimated Effect of 17 Alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone Caproate on Preterm Birth in the United States," by Joann R. Petrini, William M. Callaghan, Mark Klebanoff, Nancy S. Green, Eve M. Lackritz, Jennifer L. Howse, Richard H. Schwarz, and Karla Damus appeared in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, volume 105, number 2.

For free access to national, state, county and city-level maternal and infant health data, visit PeriStats, the source for perinatal statistics, at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a five-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org or its English website at www.marchofdimes.com.


Folic Acid Vitamin Use By Women Reaches All-Time High, March of Dimes Survey Finds

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., SEPT. 17, 2004 - A record 40 percent of American women of childbearing age reported taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid in 2004, up from 32 percent last year and the highest level since the March of Dimes began surveying women in the 1990s, according to the organization's latest survey, which was published today in Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

"Frankly, we're surprised at this increase, but it's good news," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "The increase is especially important because we've been very worried about the effects on mothers and babies of popular low-carbohydrate diets that drastically reduce grain foods enriched with folic acid, such as bread and pasta. However, our survey finds that among women who have been on diets in the past six months, 49 percent said they actually took a daily multivitamin containing folic acid. So perhaps these women are taking their vitamins because they realize they're missing out on important food groups."

However, Dr. Howse said, low-carb and other diets could not be the only reason behind the increase because rates of folic acid use were also higher than expected for women not dieting (39 percent). She also said the March of Dimes urges all women to eat a varied, healthy diet before and during pregnancy. Of women who were not pregnant at the time of the 2004 survey, 37 percent reported taking a vitamin containing folic acid daily, up from 30 percent in 2003. Daily consumption of the B vitamin folic acid beginning before pregnancy is crucial because serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs) occur in the early weeks following conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

The survey was conducted for the March of Dimes by The Gallup Organization under a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Howse said the March of Dimes survey found that more women seem to understand the importance of folic acid to the health of babies. A comparison of the eight previous surveys shows that 12 percent of women know that, to be effective, folic acid must be consumed before pregnancy -- up from only 2 percent in 1995. Those who know that folic acid helps prevent birth defects increased to 24 percent in 2004, up from only 4 percent in 1995. "Although folic acid now has a higher profile in this country, we can't be complacent in our efforts to prevent disabling or fatal NTDs from occurring," said Dr. Howse. "We urge health care professionals and pharmacists to remember to use every contact they have with women capable of having a baby to advise them to take a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily."

NTDs are among the most serious birth defects in the United States. Each year, an estimated 2,300 babies are born with these defects, and additional affected pregnancies result in miscarriage or stillbirth. To help prevent NTDs, the March of Dimes says, all women capable of becoming pregnant should consume a multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day beginning before pregnancy, as part of a healthy diet containing foods fortified with folic acid and foods that naturally contain folic acid, such as leafy green vegetables, and beans.

The March of Dimes 2004 survey results are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 2,012 women age 18 to 45 conducted from April 19 to May 20, 2004. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus three percentage points.

"Use of Vitamins Containing Folic Acid Among Women of Childbearing Age -- United States, 2004," by Heather K. Carter, M.P.H., Association for Teachers of Preventive Medicine; Lisa L. Massi Lindsey, Ph.D., CDC Foundation; Joann R. Petrini, Ph.D., March of Dimes; Christine Prue, Ph.D., and Joseph Mulinare, M.D., NCBDDD, CDC, was published in MMWR, September 17, Volume 53, No. 36.

Copies of the March of Dimes survey, item #31-1897-04, can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-367-6630. For an electronic version of the report, visit the Folic Acid section of PeriStats.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a five-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org or its English website at www.marchofdimes.com.


New PeriStats Web Site: Overview of new features

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JULY 17, 2004 - Welcome to the new PeriStats Web site, developed by the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center. With grant funding from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, the Web site has been completely redesigned based on usability testing and user feedback. New features include:

  • New user interface designed to make all data available within 2 clicks of any Web page.
  • 50,000 additional graphs, maps, and tables, for a total of more than 60,000.
  • Detailed data for 214 of the largest cities and counties in the United States.
  • Detailed data for the following U.S. regions: Midwest, Northeast, South, and West.
  • Descriptive text bullets for every graph, putting data into context for easy interpretation.
  • Web page citations, provided to assist with Internet source formatting.
  • Newly designed database to increase the speed in which data is retrieved, and to facilitate the incorporation of additional maternal and infant health data sets.
  • Brief "Quick Facts" summary pages that define and describe the most relevant facts for all maternal and infant health topics.
  • Emailable Web pages.
  • Functionality designed to facilitate copying maps, graphs and tables into presentations.
  • Graphs compliant with Subsection 508(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, so that individuals with disabilities, specifically visual impairments, can access data through descriptive text technology.



Grant Information

In March 2004, the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, in partnership with the New York Academy of Medicine, was awarded a two-year Information Systems Grant from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. The main goal of the grant is to facilitate the use of perinatal health data among health professionals and medical librarians by: 1) increasing access to city, county, state, and national perinatal data; and 2) by improving the utility of PeriStats by integrating access to relevant biomedical literature. Some specific activities of the grant include:

  • Implementation of a new database and Web site interface in response to usability studies, resulting in faster response time and more user-friendly design.
  • Expansion of maternal and infant health data sets, including detailed data for the largest cities and counties in the United States.
  • Integration of PeriStats main topics with relevant predefined biomedical journal literature searches from the National Library of Medicine's PubMed/Medline database.
  • Development and administration of training classes focused on utilizing perinatal data from PeriStats, designed specifically for health professionals and medical librarians.
  • Incorporation of design and software components to facilitate compliance with Subsection 508(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1972, which aims to make government technology accessible to users with disabilities.

The first milestone in the grant was reached in July 2004, with the implementation of the new PeriStats database and interface, and the integration of detailed city and county data. This resulted in the addition of more than 50,000 graphs, maps, and tables to the PeriStats system. Future grant-funded enhancements will be communicated to the PeriStats user audience through the PeriStats newsletter (sign-up available on home page).



For a general overview of the PeriStats Web site, click here. If you have questions about the PeriStats Web site, click on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) or the Calculations section of the Web site, or contact the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center at peristats@marchofdimes.com. To learn more about the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, click here.


March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center launches new PeriStats web site!

NEW PERISTATS WEBSITE PROVIDES EASY ACCESS TO MORE THAN 60,000 GRAPHS, MAPS, AND TABLES ON PERINATAL HEALTH

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., AUGUST 17, 2004 - The March of Dimes announced today that it has released a complete redesign of its popular PeriStats Web site, offering the most current and detailed maternal and infant health statistics available in the United States. Funding was provided by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health through a 2-year grant collaboration with the New York Academy of Medicine.

The new PeriStats Web site offers state-specific perinatal data, including detailed data for the largest cities and counties in the United States, and is available free of charge at www.marchofdimes.com/peristats. Founded on research aimed to understand how different audiences use health-related data, the new PeriStats system was designed to compile vast amounts of information, and make it useful and accessible for health professionals, researchers and the news media. Despite the large volume of information, all data is available within two clicks of any Web page.

"The March of Dimes has a long history of supporting health professionals and researchers, and the new PeriStats Web site expands our capacity to provide this audience with tools to guide maternal and infant health research and policy in the United States," said March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse.

Aggregating maternal and infant health data from 11 government agencies and organizations, PeriStats provides access to statistics on topics such as preterm birth, infant mortality, tobacco use, cesarean section rates, and health insurance coverage. Detailed information by race, ethnicity, maternal age and plurality is available, and users can make data comparisons between states, counties, and cities and to the United States. In addition to graphs, maps, and tables, the Web site provides state summaries of maternal and infant health indicators, and the graphs are coupled with concise bulleted facts that describe data. The Web site is especially useful for fact-finding, regional health assessments, grant writing, policy development, lectures and presentations.

Through the grant, the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center and The New York Academy of Medicine will incorporate relevant biomedical literature searches into PeriStats, and will also provide data training for health professionals and medical librarians. Future Web site releases will include additional maternal and infant health data from U.S. government agencies and organizations.



The New York Academy of Medicine (www.nyam.org) is a non-profit institution founded in 1847 that is dedicated to enhancing the health of the public through research, education and advocacy, with a particular focus on urban populations, especially the disadvantaged.

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Library of Medicine (www.nlm.nih.gov), the world's largest library of the health sciences, is a component of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a five-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org or its English website at www.marchofdimes.com.


March of Dimes State Report Card on Newborn Screening

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JUNE 30, 2004 - Seventy percent of babies in the U.S. are born in states that still fail to carry out the nine core newborn screening tests recommended by the March of Dimes, according to the non-profit's 2004 state-by-state report card on newborn screening.

The March of Dimes is the first national health organization to recommend that every baby born in the U.S. receive, at a minimum, screening for the same core group of nine metabolic disorders as well as hearing deficiency. All of these metabolic disorders can be successfully managed or treated to prevent severe consequences, if diagnosed early.

Few parents realize that the extent of newborn testing depends entirely on the state in which their baby is born. For infants affected with these nine metabolic disorders, the tests can mean the difference between life and death, the March of Dimes says. The March of Dimes encourages states to add more screening tests as resources and capabilities allow.

"The number of screened disorders continues to vary greatly by state. Here we have a simple and inexpensive solution to a potentially devastating problem, and it's time for all states to make newborn screening a top priority," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes and a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders and Genetic Diseases in Newborns and Children.

"Our state chapters and their partners have been working closely with governors, state legislators, and health departments to increase access to these important tests," Dr. Howse says. "I'm encouraged to report today that since this time last year, the number of states that test for the nine core metabolic disorders has risen from nine to 21."

Currently, the following 21 states screen for the March of Dimes-recommended list of metabolic disorders: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. These states account for about 1.3 million of the approximately 4 million live births each year in the U.S. "This means that only about 32 percent of babies are born in states that carry out the recommended screening," Dr. Howse says.

Fourteen states, plus the District of Columbia, currently offer tests for six to eight of the conditions on the March of Dimes list. Another fifteen states, plus Puerto Rico, currently offer tests for only five or fewer conditions.

Nine states (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming) have authorized expanded newborn screening, but testing currently is not being implemented.

Another seven -- Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota -- are testing only selected populations within the state or are running pilot programs that do not include all babies.

Although most states have approved screening for hearing deficiency, seven states currently do not ensure that at least 90 percent of babies actually get tested, the March of Dimes says.

Dr. Howse says the March of Dimes urges Congress to act and to appropriate $25 million to fund Title 26 of the Children's Health Act of 2000, to help improve and strengthen state newborn screening programs.

The metabolic disorders on the March of Dimes-recommended list for screening are: phenylketonuria (PKU); congenital hypothyroidism; congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH); biotinidase deficiency; maple syrup urine disease; galactosemia; homocystinuria; sickle cell anemia; and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency. The March of Dimes and the American Academy of Pediatrics also advise a test for hearing deficiency for all newborns.

Newborn screening is done by testing a few drops of blood, usually from a newborn's heel, before hospital discharge. If a result is positive, the infant will usually be re-tested and given treatment as soon as possible, before becoming seriously ill from the disease.

Currently, parents seeking screening for disorders not currently done by their state must arrange privately for their newborn to be screened, often with additional out-of-pocket expense. Parents are encouraged to check with their state's Department of Health to determine what newborn screening tests are offered. In some states, approval and funding of expanded screening may be in development. In other states, governors or legislators may need encouragement to give attention and resources to these programs.

To learn about the tests offered by your state, see the list at marchofdimes/nbs.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a five-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish Web site at nacersano.org.

For free access to national, state, city and county-level statistics related to pregnancy and maternal and infant health, visit PeriStats, an interactive data resource from the March of Dimes at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.





The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a five-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org or its English website at www.marchofdimes.com.