(Premature births are defined as babies that are born between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.) Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributor to death in the first year of life in the USA, and the leading cause of death of children under age 5 worldwide, March of Dimes points out. This is the third consecutive year that preterm birth rates have increased in Florida, according to the report.
"The overall rate in this country for premature birth is just shy of ten percent, but in certain areas of the country, it's particularly worse", says the March of Dimes' Stacey D. Stewart. The states with the highest premature birth rates were mostly in the South and the lower Midwest.
Experts say statistics on women of color are concerning. The report shows the preterm birth rate among black women is almost 50 percent higher than the rate of all other women.
The trend extends beyond Florida, with more babies born too soon with serious health risks, according to the organization's 2018 Premature Birth Report Card. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia all had preterm birth rates above 12 percent, which translated into a failing grade.
Black women are also three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the only thing to do if we're going to see any meaningful changes in premature birth'.
Stewart says a big way to drive this rate down "as a country" is by participating in next week's mid-term elections. Black women had a 49 percent higher rate of preterm births compared to women of other ethnicities and races says the report. Research has shown that chronic stress from racism is associated with a higher risk of premature birth among African American mothers, which also puts them at a higher risk of infant death. As families navigate the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), March of Dimes offers information and comfort with its NICU Family Support® program and its My NICU Baby™ App. Florida's was 10.2 percent. Compared to 2016, preterm birth rates in 2017 worsened in 30 states, stayed the same in 6 states and improved in 16 states. In 2017, it dropped to 8.3 percent. By expanding proven programs and innovative solutions we can shift our health care system to improve treatment and preventive care for moms and lower the preterm birth rate. "We really wanted to make sure we could maximize women who had health insurance coverage during pregnancy, as well as postpartum." says Clyne.
Clyne explains that the postpartum period often leads up to the next pregnancy and this is a crucial time for women to get their health in order.
Fathers are also older than they've been in the past, and that plays a role. The screening is for all women of reproductive age, and asks them one question: 'Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?' "Lack of education about a healthy pregnancy and prenatal care, as well as a lack of understanding about risk factors and behavioral habits that can ensure a healthy outcome is another possible factor".
Doctors studied the blood of women who had recorded premature birth before 34 weeks of pregnancy.
A birth is considered preterm or premature if it happens before the 37th week of gestation.