SALT LAKE CITY, UT — A new report from the March of Dimes gives the United States a D+ grade when it comes to preterm births. The annual report breaks down preterm births and infant deaths by state and city. You can find a link to the March of Dimes research findings here. En Español.
Between 2021 and 2022, there was a slight decline across the country for preterm birth rates; dropping from 10.5% to 10.4%. Researchers found that although the preterm birth rates are dropping nationwide, they are climbing in the Southeast. Dr. Phyllis Dennery is the vice chair of the March of Dimes board of trustees and she says elevated numbers in southeastern states is not surprising.
"These are some of the same states that have higher rates of maternal mortality, have less access to support for mothers who are pregnant," said Dennery. "And they, they have higher rates of maternal diseases, such as hypertension, obesity. and diabetes which can impact prematurity."
Another major concern regarding the research by March of Dimes is racial disparity in health care. "What is a very stark finding that cuts across all of those indicators is the fact that black mothers and Native and Alaskan mothers are at higher risk of having a preterm baby and having all of the complications of maternal poor health, maternal morbidity mortality and you know, infant mortality and preterm birth" said Dennery.
Dr. Dennery and the March of Dimes are pushing for solutions across the country to help improve the health and well-being of new parents and their babies. Some recommended areas for immediate action include expanding medicaid, paid family leave, and doula reimbursements