Fewer preemie births in the US


Good news for babies in the United States: the premature birth rate has finally declined after decades of increasing. After 30 years of a slow climb, the US premature birth rate dropped for the second year in a row from 12.8% in 2006 to 12.3% in 2008. The March of Dimes is responsible for bringing this good news to our attention.

To understand how dramatic these changes are, it was only 1981 when the US had a 9.4% premature baby rate. Premature is defined as being born before 37 weeks of gestation.

The change is attributed to educating hospitals and doctors more about the risks of inducing labor and Caesarean sections before 39 weeks in addition to better prenatal care services for moms-to-be.

The US has the highest premature birth rate among industrialized nations with more than 500,000 preemie babies born each year. Those babies have a higher risk of intellectual disabilities, hearing or vision loss, and other health issues. Maternal risk factors for premature birth include high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of health insurance, previous preterm births, cervical or uterine abnormalities, and carrying multiples.

According to USA Today (11/18), premature births in the US cost an estimated $26 billion in medical costs, lost labor and other related expenses.

Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, MedicalNewsToday


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