Monday, July 03, 2017

Preterm Birth Rates Have Increased in the U.S.

by Maggie Fox
June 30, 2017

Nearly 10 percent of babies born in the U.S. are born prematurely and the rates of preterm birth are going up, a new government report shows.

Also more low birth weight babies were born last year than in previous years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

With half of all U.S. births covered by Medicaid, these rates would get even worse if Congress cuts back on the program, advocates said. Medicaid covers 75 million people, including nearly 36 million children, according to data released last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service.

Already the United States has much worse rates of infant mortality, preterm birth and low birth weight babies than other industrialized countries. The new data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows no improvement.


The report just looks at numbers and does not go into reasons for the preterm and low-weight births. But a lack of prenatal care, obesity, tobacco use and some fertility treatments can all lead to early births. Teenagers and women who have babies spaced too closely together also have higher rates of preterm birth.

The NCHS team found that women of Asian ethnic origin had the lowest rates of preterm births, at 8.6 percent, while African-American women had the highest rates, at 13.75 percent of all births.

States with the most preterm births: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Washington, D.C., was also included.

States where 10 percent or more of women got late prenatal care or no prenatal care: Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas. In Vermont, just 1.6 percent of women got late prenatal care or no prenatal care.

Only New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont had preterm rates below 8 percent.


The March of Dimes said that the health care bill currently working its way through Congress could make matters worse.

“As the Senate considers the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), we estimate that up to 6.5 million women of childbearing age could lose health insurance. Combined with proposed rules changes, this would mean fewer pregnant women would receive prenatal care, and fewer premature babies would receive the specialized treatment they need to survive and thrive,” the organization said in a statement.

According to Save the Children, the United States has the highest rate of babies who die the day they are born in the industrialized world. It says 130 countries have lower preterm birth rates than the U.S.


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