State Receives ‘C’ Grade on Premature Birth Report Card
The March of Dimes has announced that the State of New Mexico has received a “C” grade on the 2014 Premature Birth Report Card. The prematurity rate has increased slightly from 11.5 percent in 2012 to 11.6 percent in 2013. The Premature Birth Report Card shows developments on the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign to reduce the nation’s preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent or less by 2020.
“We saw a slight setback in New Mexico’s Premature Birth Report Card this year,” said Becky Horner, state director with March of Dimes New Mexico Chapter. “With the many programs and partnerships that March of Dimes has in place to reduce preterm births in New Mexico, we expect this to be a brief detour in our long-term progress of decreasing prematurity rates and giving all babies a healthy start at life.”
In regards to the factors that contribute to preterm birth, New Mexico reduced the rate of women who smoke from 19.4 percent in 2012 to 17.2 in 2013. However, other factors increased, including the number of babies born in the late preterm period (34-36 weeks), which moved from 8.4 percent in 2012 to 8.6 percent in 2013, as well as the amount of uninsured women, which increased from 26 percent to 27 percent.
According to New Mexico’s report card, prematurity rates among African Americans has decreased from 16.3 percent in 2012 to 15.6 percent in 2013, rates among Hispanics decreased from 12.2 percent to 11.5 percent, and rates among Anglo Saxons decreased from 10.2 percent to 9.9 percent. Rates among Native Americans increased from 13 percent to 13.5 percent, and rates among Asians increased from 9.5 percent to 13.2 percent.
“Although New Mexico has seen a steady decline of premature births since 2006, when prematurity rates were at their highest, there is still a lot work to be done in order prevent premature births throughout the state,” said Horner. “March of Dimes is dedicated to continue working with local New Mexico communities to provide the tools and resources to help women quit smoking and live healthy lifestyles during pregnancy, motivate women to attend all prenatal appointments, and encourage women and health care providers to avoid scheduling a delivery before 39 weeks unless medically necessary.”
March of Dimes New Mexico Chapter has several programs and continued partnerships to decrease preterm births throughout the state, including a toolkit for hospitals to reduce early elective deliveries before 39 weeks or pregnancy. In addition, the March of Dimes awarded two organizations with community grants: New Mexico Community Health Worker Association to help pregnant and postpartum women quit smoking through the 5A’s Intervention, a program for healthcare providers to assess and advise their patients who are smoking or have recently quit; and the Chances Treatment Compliance Project, which works with the Luna County Healthy Start program to encourage pregnant women who are abusing substances to seek and be compliant with treatment.
Furthermore, March of Dimes of New Mexico has implemented a folic acid initiative based on a grant it received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2013. The initiative’s goal is to educate women about the benefits of folic acid in preventing birth defects, such as neural tube defects, which can cause spina bifida, anencephaly, and Chiara malformation in children. Through this initiative, March of Dimes has conducted approximately 180 Folic Acid Workshops, distributed 2,500 folic acid vitamins to households, participated in more than 15 community health fairs, and much more in order to provide information and resources about folic acid to women of childbearing age in four counties.
The overall prematurity rate in the United States has decreased from 11.5 percent in 2012 to 11.4 percent in 2013, with a “C” grade on the March of Dimes Report Card. Grades are based on comparing each state’s and the nation’s 2013 preliminary preterm birth rates with the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births.
More than 450,000 babies were born premature in 2013, compared to 542,893 in 2006, when the rate was at its highest. The March of Dimes estimates that since 2006, 231,000 fewer babies have been born preterm because of sustained interventions put in place by states, saving $11.9 billion in healthcare and other costs. Medical expenses for an average premature infant are about $54,000 compared to just $4,000 for a healthy newborn.
Five states earned an “A” including California, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont. Twenty states earned a “B,” 20 states received a “C,” two states and the District of Columbia received a “D,” and only three states and Puerto Rico received an “F” on the report card. The report card information for the U.S. and states are available online at www.marchofdimes.org/reportcard.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit www.marchofdimes.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.