Preterm Birth Rates On The Rise For Third Year In A Row


A report shows that the preterm birth rates in the United States are on the rise for the third year in a row.

This is a concerning trend because babies born prematurely are more at risk of developmental problems and developmental delays later in life.

Report On Preterm Births

A report by nonprofit organization March of Dimes shows a rise in preterm birth rates in the United States for the third year in a row. Specifically, data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show that from the 2016 preterm birth rate of 9.85 percent, the 2017 preterm birth rate rose to 9.93 percent.

While this may not seem like such a significant increase at first glance, the senior director of applied research and evaluation at March of Dimes, Becky Russel, states that this number amounts to thousands of babies born prematurely each year. In fact, the trend shows that about 27,000 babies were born prematurely since 2014. Furthermore, the three years in which birth rates continuously increased actually followed nearly a decade of decline from 2007 to 2015.

The states with the highest preterm birth rates were Mississippi with 13.6 percent and Louisiana with 12.7 percent. Vermont had the lowest preterm birth rate at 7.5 percent, while Puerto Rico and three other states actually saw a decline in preterm birth rates.

What Caused The Increase?

It’s not entirely certain what causes the increase, but social and economic factors such as unequal access to health care play a big role. Furthermore, women of color are up to 50 percent more likely to have a preterm delivery, so their children have a 130 percent higher death rate compared to white women and their children.

Apart from the mothers’ unequal access to health care, research has also shown how racial discrimination affects preterm births in that the African-American mothers who experience chronic stress from racism have higher risks of preterm births compared to those who don’t. 

“Our country’s most important resource is human potential. That begins with ensuring every baby has the healthiest possible start in life, regardless of racial and ethnic background or their family’s income,” said Stacey D. Stewart, president of March of Dimes.

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