Report: Calif. Earns ‘B’ Grade as Premature Birth Rate Declines
California's premature birth rate fell in 2009 as more pregnant women delivered their infants at full term and fewer smoked while pregnant, according to a report card from the March of Dimes, the Sacramento Bee reports (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 11/2).
The March of Dimes released its 2011 Premature Birth Report Card on Tuesday.
According to the Institute of Medicine, preterm births cost the U.S. more than $26 billion annually, and preterm birth is the top cause of newborn death. A premature birth is defined as a birth before 37 weeks' gestation (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/1).
In 2009 -- the latest year for which data were available -- California's preterm birth rate fell to 10.3% from 10.9% in 2007, according to the report. In 2006, California's preterm birth rate was 10.7%.
The report gave California a "B" grade.
Most states showed improvement from 2006 to 2009. Vermont was the only state to receiveÂ an "A." The U.S. received a "C" grade overall.
Factors in California's Declining Preterm Birth Rate
March of DimesÂ noted that California also has reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke.
Sara Hyde-Lampa, a spokesperson for March of Dimes' California chapter, said her group has been able to "attack and make an immediate impact" on the premature birth rate by focusing on the smoking rate and late preterm births, including elective deliveries before 39 weeks.
"Women were asking for [labor] inductions, and we're educating women to let them know the risks of that," Hyde-Lampa said (Sacramento Bee, 11/2).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.