Georgia earned a “C” on the report card for lowering its preterm birth rate to 12.7 percent.
“We’re proud of Georgia’s better grade on the report card. But we will continue to work to give all babies a healthy start in life because too many still are born too soon, before their lungs, brains or other organs are fully developed,” said Sheila Ryan, State Director of the Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes. “Partnerships with our state health officials and local hospitals have helped us make newborn health a priority and have made a difference in babies’ lives.”
In Georgia, the March of Dimes is supporting programs like CenteringPregnancy and working with local hospitals to end early elective deliveries in order to help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.
Georgia is part of a national trend toward improved preterm birth rates. On the 2013 Report Card, 31 states, Puerto Rico and Washington saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2011 and 2012, earning seven of them, including Georgia, better grades. Nationwide, the largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Almost every state saw its preterm birth rate decline since 2006, the national peak.
In Georgia, the rate of late preterm births is 8.8 percent, the rate of women smoking is 18.5 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 26.5 percent.
These factors contribute to improved infant health in Georgia. It earned a star on the report card for:
o Reducing the percentage of uninsured women of child-bearing age.
o Lowering the late preterm birth rate.
o Reducing the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke.
These improvements mean not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings in health care and economic costs to society.
The March of Dimes attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials here and every other state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014 from their 2009 rate.
Nov. 17, partners from around the world will mark the third World Prematurity Day in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort led by UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.