PRETERM BIRTHS: Fall Among Blacks, Rise Among Whites
While black babies are still nearly twice as likely to be born prematurely than white babies, the rate of single-born, premature births climbed 8% among white women and dropped among blacks and other minorities between 1989 and 1996, the CDC reports in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The AP/Washington Times reports that researchers "were unable to explain the changes." CDC epidemiologist Dr. Lucinda England said, "We hope it reflects things such as improved health status among African-American women in general and possibly improved access to prenatal care" (AP/Washington Times, 3/12). The CDC reports that premature births, defined as births taking place from 17-36 weeks of gestation, decreased 10% from 180.4 to 162.5 per 1,000 live births among blacks, but climbed from 74.8 to 80.8 per 1,000 among whites. The rate dropped 3.6% among Hispanics, 2.8%% among American Indians and Native Alaskans and 2.2% among Asians and Pacific Islanders (MMWR, 3/12 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.