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    United States scores barely passing grade on premature birth


    Rates of preterm birth in the United States declined from 11.5% in 2013 to 9.6% overall in 2014, according to a new March of Dimes report. The country received a grade of “C” yet again—one of the worst scores recorded among high-resource nations—however, on the organization’s 8th annual report card on prematurity.

    More: Are women who were premature disposed to having premature infants?

    For the first time this year, the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card provides data not only on all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia but also on rates of prematurity in cities and counties. With a rate of 7.2% and a grade of “A,” Portland, Oregon had the best preterm birth rate of the top 100 cities with the most births nationwide. Shreveport, Louisiana had the worst ranking, with a grade of “F” and an 18.8% rate of preterm births.

    The city statistics in the report are from 2013, the most recent year for which information was available from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The data at the state level and from the District of Columbia are from 2014 and also taken from the NCHS natality files.

    In the report, preterm birth was defined as birth <37 weeks’ gestation based on the obstetric estimate of gestational age. A grade of “A” meant a preterm birth rate ≤8.1%, “B” was a rate of 8.2% to 9.2%, “C” was a rate of 9.3% to 10.3%, “D” was a rate of 10.4% to 11.4%, and a grade of “F” was a preterm birth rate ≥11.5%.

    Idaho, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington earned “A” grades, 19 states earned a “B,” 18 states and the District of Columbia got a “C,”, 6 other states got a “D,” and an “F” was earned by Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico. Other cities that received “A” grades were Oxnard, California; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Seattle, Washington.

    Looking at the influence of race and ethnicity on prematurity, the March of Dimes found that overall, blacks had the highest rates of preterm birth at 13.4%, followed by Native Americans (10.4%), Hispanics (9.3%), whites (9.1%), and Asians (8.7%). At a state level, racial and ethnic disparities had the greatest impact in the District of Columbia and the least impact in Maine.

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    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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