Mississippi's pre term birth rate improves

Mississippi's pre term birth rate improves

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the March of Dimes

Mississippi's preterm birth rate has shown long-term improvement, but it again received an "F" on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.

Although its 2013 preterm birth rate improved compared to the previous year, dropping to 16.6 percent from 17.1 percent, it is still a long way from the March of Dimes goal of 9.6 percent of all live births.

"We have great progress in the last year," said Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. "With the collaboration of our healthcare partners and the March of Dimes, our early elective delivery rate has significantly declined. The majority of our delivering hospitals – 38 out of 44 – no longer allow early elective deliveries. Our early elective deliveries have decreased from over 17 percent in 2011 to just over 11 percent by the middle of 2014."

"In addition other important policies are under consideration that will support continued success in this important endeavor," Dr. Currier adds. "These polices, combined with our efforts to educate moms-to-be about the dangers of smoking while pregnant, ensuring a safe sleeping environment for infants, and working to make 17 P available, will all work together for a better outcome for our newborns."

The March of Dimes also is investing in a network of five new prematurity research centers to find solutions to this still too common, costly, and serious problem.

Mississippi earned a star on the report card for:

Reducing the percent of uninsured women of child-bearing age; Lowering the late preterm birth rate.

In Mississippi, the rate of late preterm births is 11.6 percent; the rate of women smoking is 25.4 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 24.4 percent. Premature birth, birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy are important to a baby's health because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

The national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent in 2013 – the lowest in 17 years -- meeting the federal Health People 2020 goal seven years early. Despite this progress, the U.S. still received a "C" on the 7th annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card because it fell short of the more-challenging 9.6 percent target set by the March of Dimes, the group said today. The U.S. still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country

On November 17th, the March of Dimes and organizations from around the world will mark the fourth World Prematurity Day. The World Prematurity Network, (WPN), a global coalition of consumer and parent groups working together to raise awareness and prevent premature birth in their countries, is calling for action to prevent preterm birth and improve care for babies born too soon. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.

Learn more about Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day by visiting http://www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday and share stories and videos about babies born too soon. The page features an interactive world map showing the home place for each story told.

Prematurity Awareness events are happening throughout November. Here in Mississippi details can be found at marchofdimes.org/Mississippi.

World Prematurity Fund the Mission Awareness Event will be held at Cowboys Kitchen (1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 113, Ridgeland, MS 39157) from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. For more information, call Kellie Bosarge at 601-292-6663. Huddle Up for Babies Football T-shirt Campaign: On Monday, Nov. 17, businesses and schools around the state will wear t-shirts to bring awareness to the issue of prematurity. Contact Jennifer Stanley at 601-292-6662 for t-shirt orders and more information.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at marchforbabies.org. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.