Share This Page

Premature births in the U.S. hit 15-year low, but still called high

| Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

The rate of premature births dropped slightly in the United States last year, but the country has a ways to go before reaching the March of Dimes' goal of 9.6 percent of babies born prematurely.

Preliminary figures for 2012 show that 11.5 percent of births in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico occurred before pregnancies reached 37 weeks of gestation. That's a 15-year low and the sixth consecutive year of decline, according to the March of Dimes.

The nonprofit organization, which focuses on pregnancy and baby health, estimates that about 176,000 fewer babies have been born premature since 2006, when the rate of preterm births peaked at 12.8 percent nationwide. That translates to a savings of about $9 billion in health and other costs.

March of Dimes President Jennifer Howse noted “the U.S. still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country.”

The March of Dimes gave the country a grade of “C” on its “Premature Birth Report Card,” released on Friday.

The report card identified racial disparities in the rates of preterm births. Nationwide, the proportion of babies born early last year was 10.3 percent among Asian Americans, 10.5 percent among whites, 11.7 percent among Latinas, 13.6 percent among Native Americans and 16.8 percent among blacks.

The statistics used in the report card were culled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Census Bureau.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.