US preterm birth rate under 12 percent, the lowest level in nearly a decade

November 17, 2011

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Nov. 17, 2011 - The nation's preterm birth rate slipped under 12 percent for the first time in nearly a decade, the fourth consecutive year it declined, potentially sparing tens of thousands of babies the serious health consequences of an early birth.

The national preterm birth rate declined to 11.99 percent last year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released its report "Births: Preliminary Data for 2010," today, the first-ever World Prematurity Day. Despite the improvement, still too many babies, one out of every eight, was born too soon.

"As our volunteers and partners across the globe gather on World Prematurity Day to honor the 13 million infants born too soon worldwide, we celebrate the news of this exciting success," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "Four consecutive years of declines in our nation's preterm birth rate is a testament to the combined hard work of researchers, health care professionals, our volunteers, sponsors, donors and others who know that there is no single answer to the problem of premature birth. We are continuing to work together to prevent as many preterm births as possible because we owe our babies a healthy start in life."

Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and one million babies worldwide die each year as a result of their early birth.

Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeksearly have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. If there are no complications that require an early delivery, at least 39 weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby's health because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

Babies born just a few weeks too soon, between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, accounted for most of the decline in the national preterm birth rate, according to the federal report.

The report also found that cesarean sections declined slightly. Research by the March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 found that cesarean sections accounted for nearly all of the increase in U.S. singleton preterm birth rate between 1996 and 2004.

The decline in the 2010 preterm birth rate is a 6 percent drop from the high of 12.8 percent in 2006. Preterm birth rates declined significantly in 44 states and the District of Columbia when compared to 2006, according to the federal report.
-end-
The March of Dimes, the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants, (EFCNI), Africa-based LittleBigSouls International Foundation, and the National Premmie Foundation in Australia are the founding global alliance members of World Prematurity Day. The global alliances are harnessing the power of social media to encourage governments to give top priority to educating health professionals and women about caring for high-risk pregnancies and premature babies.

People everywhere can show their support for global prematurity prevention efforts by going to facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay and join the virtual campaign by changing their Facebook status to reflect a prematurity awareness message.

In the United States, the March of Dimes and its volunteers are working to renew the federal PREEMIE act, (S.1440/H.R. 2679), a bill to would expand research into the causes and prevention of prematurity.

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 marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.

March of Dimes Foundation

Related Preterm Birth Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers develop app to determine risk of preterm birth
An improved mobile phone app will help identify women who need special treatments at the right time and reduce emotional and financial burden on families and the NHS.

Point-of-care diagnostic for detecting preterm birth on horizon
A new study provides a first step toward the development of an inexpensive point-of-care diagnostic test to assess the presence of known risk factors for preterm birth in resource-poor areas.

WVU biostatistician studies link between microbiome and preterm birth
Pregnant African American women are more likely than white women to give birth prematurely, but they're underrepresented in studies of preterm birth rates.

3D-printed device detects biomarkers of preterm birth
Preterm birth (PTB) -- defined as birth before the 37th week of gestation -- is the leading complication of pregnancy.

Association of quitting smoking during pregnancy, risk of preterm birth
This study of more than 25 million pregnant women reports on rates of smoking cessation at the start of and during pregnancy and also examines the association of quitting cigarette smoking and the risk of preterm birth.

Blood test developed to predict spontaneous preterm birth
Results from a multicenter study show that five circulating microparticle proteins found in first-trimester blood samples may provide important clues about risk of spontaneous preterm birth.

Scientists gain new insight on triggers for preterm birth
A group of scientists led by Ramkumar Menon at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have gained new insight on a poorly-understood key player in the timing of labor and delivery.

Medically assisted reproduction does not raise risk of preterm birth and low birth weight
Study shows that couples can decide about using medically assisted reproduction free from concerns about increasing the health risks to their baby.

Risk of preterm birth reliably predicted by new test
Scientists at UC San Francisco have developed a test to predict a woman's risk of preterm birth when she is between 15 and 20 weeks pregnant, which may enable doctors to treat them early and thereby prevent severe complications later in the pregnancy.

Preterm birth leaves its mark in the functional networks of the brain
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital, Finland, have proven that premature birth has a significant and, at the same time, a very selective effect on the functional networks of a child's brain.

Read More: Preterm Birth News and Preterm Birth Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.