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Daily Dose: US Preterm Birth Rate Reaches 15-year High


Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

On November 29, 2022, we reported on findings from the March of Dimes (MOD) 2022 Report Card that found preterm births in the US reached their highest level in 15 years.

The survey

The yearly report has grades for individual states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the 100 cities with the greatest number of births. Between 2020 and 2021, preterm birth rates increased in 45 states as well as in Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The 2022 report awards only 1 state a score in the A range (ie, preterm birth rate between 7.7% and 8.1%)—Vermont. Eight states, including New Hampshire, California, Oregon, and Massachusetts, earned a mark in the Bs (8.2% - 9.2%). Failing marks, with rates of ≥11.5%, were given to 9 states, located primarily in the US south and southeast.

Women of all races experienced an increase in the number of preterm births. Black and Native American women, however, are 62% more likely to deliver prematurely and their neonates are twice as likely to die compared to those born early to White women. The US preterm birth disparity ratio also has gotten worse, the report confirms, when measured against a 2012-2014 baseline. Highest levels of overall disparity were calculated for New York, Wisconsin, and Mississippi and the lowest levels for states including New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Oregon. Moreover, the report states that persistent racial disparities across maternal and infant health measures compounded by the COVID pandemic make the US “among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth.”

Clinical implications

“This year’s report sheds new light on the devastating consequences of the pandemic for moms and babies in our country. While fewer babies are dying, more of them are being born too sick and too soon which can lead to lifelong health problems. Pregnant women with COVID have a 40% higher risk of preterm birth and we know more women are starting their pregnancies with chronic health conditions which can further increase their risk of complications. It’s clear that we’re at a critical moment in our country and that’s why we’re urging policymakers to act now to advance legislation that will measurably improve the health of moms and babies.”

Click here for more details.

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