Premature births on the rise

Cleveland Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio continue to struggle with a high preterm birth rate compared to other parts of the country. While the rate has fallen from a high about 10 years ago it has recently plateaued and continues to earn the are

Premature birth, or birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of the death of babies in the U.S. The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card indicates mothers in this state are more likely to have premature births, based on their race and neighborhood.

In Virginia, 9.6 percent of births were premature.

Only Miami-Dade County had an improved preterm birth rate among large counties over last year, with a 9.6-percent rate, down from 11.3 percent last year. They're also more likely to suffer lifelong disabilities and chronic health conditions including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes index of racial/ethnic disparity ("disparity index") in preterm birth provides a measure of the differences, or disparities, in preterm birth rates across racial/ethnic groups within a geographic area.

More than 380,000 babies are born too soon every year in the USA and it is the leading cause of death for kids under the age of 5.

"This in an unacceptable trend that requires immediate attention", Stacey D. Stewart, president of March of Dimes said in a press release. A cluster of a dozen counties in the northeastern part of the state had premature birth rates of more than 10.8 percent.

11 states and the District of Columbia received a "D" grade for preterm birthrates between 10.4 and 11.4 percent.

"The March of Dimes is dedicated to giving every baby a fair chance for a healthy start in life, and our work is more vital than ever", Ms. Stewart said. The state has a preterm birth rate of 12.6 percent and was among three other states and the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico to receive the failing grade. Wake County got a "C" for its rate of 9.3 percent, but the report stated that the county's rate had improved. For American Indian/Alaska Native women, the number is 18 percent.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recently reported that the state's infant mortality rate dipped by 1.4 percent in 2016 to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 births.

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