Friday, November 20, 2009

Low marks for US on premature births

Courtesy of NY Times

More than half a million babies — one out of eight — are born prematurely each year in the United States, prompting the March of Dimes to give the nation a D on its premature births report card. The report card did not give an A to a single state. Vermont, which has a preterm birth rate of 9 percent, got a B, while 17 states got F’s, including Mississippi, with a preterm birth rate of 18.3 percent. The prematurity rate in Puerto Rico, at 19.4 percent, was the highest in the country.

Several states did receive stars for taking steps to reduce smoking among women of childbearing age or providing health insurance coverage for pregnant women, which may help reduce preterm birth rates, the report card noted. Multiple births and elective Caesarean sections also push up preterm birth rates. The March of Dimes has been encouraging pregnant women to refuse to be induced for delivery before 39 weeks unless there is a medical reason.

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