March of Dimes Announces Premature Birth Report Card Findings

November 09, 2015|2:35 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Nov. 5, the March of Dimes released its eighth annual Premature Birth Report Card, which revealed that the United States reduced its national premature birth rate from 11.4 percent in 2013 to 9.6 percent in 2014.

The 2014 rate meets the March of Dimes’ 2020 target goal several years early, avoiding thousands of premature births and millions of dollars in healthcare costs, and exceeds the Healthy People 2020 goal that the United States reached last year. As a result, the March of Dimes announced new national preterm birth goals of 8.1 percent of live births by 2020 and 5.5 percent of live births by 2030, which the March of Dimes estimates will save $70 billion in healthcare costs. “This aggressive goal can be achieved by increasing best practices in preconception and pregnancy care, wider use of proven interventions such as progesterone and birth spacing, and funding discovery research through our research centers,” says March of Dimes President Jennifer L. Howse.

The March of Dimes attributes the country’s reduced prematurity rates to “bold leadership” and new policies and programs in state and local public health departments, clinics, and hospitals. It also notes that new ways of measuring pregnancy length have contributed to the rate reduction.

Despite these successes, however, the United States still receives an overall grade of “C” on its preterm birth rate, partly due to persistent racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities within states. Premature babies often face serious, lifelong medical issues, including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy, and intellectual delays.

To learn about ASTHO’s work to prevent prematurity, see our Healthy Babies Initiative web page and our Maternal and Child Health web page.