United States Still Has Too-High Rate of Preterm Birth

March of Dimes report shows two-year drop, but nation misses Healthy People 2010 goal

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Since the previous year's report card, the preterm birth rate in the United States has improved, but the nation still earns a D on the new March of Dimes 2010 Premature Birth Report Card when compared to Healthy People 2010 goals, according to the organization, which released the report on Nov. 17.

According to the authors, the nation's objective for preterm birth is 7.6 percent. The preliminary 2008 rate was 12.3 percent, down from 12.8 percent in 2006. One factor contributing to these findings is uninsured women, write the authors, who recommend expanded coverage for women of childbearing age.

Broken down by state, no state received an A in the report card for having a preterm birth rate of 7.6 percent or lower or a B for a rate above 7.6 percent and below 9.4 percent. Thirteen states failed, as did the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with a rate of 13.2 percent or higher. However, eight states earned a better grade on the new report card than the previous one, and the preterm birth rate improved in 32 others plus the District of Columbia.

"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. 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," Jennifer L. Howse, Ph.D., president of the March of Dimes, said in a statement.

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