USA Today reports that the March of Dimes has just released its first “Premature Birth Report Card” for the United States, and it’s not very encouraging. Overall, the nation gets a “D,” with 530,000 preterm births each year. According to the organization, preterm birth is the leading cause of death for infants and can lead to lifelong disabilities.
The March of Dimes conducted the research by comparing each state’s percentage of preterm births to the country’s goal to limit the number of preterm births to 7.6% or less of the number of all births. Vermont got the highest grade, a “B,” with 9% of births in that state being preterm. Mississippi ranked last, with 18.8% of births being preterm. Pennsylvania got a “D” – 11.9% of births in our state are preterm.
How can preterm births be reduced? According to the study, one way to do it is by increasing health care coverage to more pregnant women. Women who receive proper prenatal care are less likely to deliver a baby preterm. Another way is to review the reasons for labor inductions and caesarean births, which increase the likelihood of preterm births.