Federal report finds early births decline in most categories

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 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 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, rates declined regardless of whether or not labor was induced, although there was a larger decline in induced vaginal deliveries.

Explore further: With kids in school, parents can work out

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Preterm birth rate drops

Mar 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.

Preterm births rise 36 percent since early 1980s

Jan 07, 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.

More babies born prematurely, new report shows

Dec 06, 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.

Recommended for you

With kids in school, parents can work out

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Back-to-school time provides an opportunity for parents to develop an exercise plan that fits into the family schedules, an expert suggests.

Obama offers new accommodations on birth control

18 hours ago

The Obama administration will offer a new accommodation to religious nonprofits that object to covering birth control for their employees. The measure allows those groups to notify the government, rather than their insurance ...

Use a rule of thumb to control how much you drink

18 hours ago

Sticking to a general rule of pouring just a half glass of wine limits the likelihood of overconsumption, even for men with a higher body mass index. That's the finding of a new Iowa State and Cornell University ...

User comments : 0