Even though the United States is a major world super power, it still got a grade of “C” in the preterm birth category on the March of Dimes annual global report card, recently released.
Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy are pre-term, according to the Institute of Medicine. Newborns early face higher chance of serious and lifelong health problems. Some are born with breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delay and others have vision loss and develop cerebral palsy.
They are also costly- $26 billion annually in the US.
“Although we have made great progress in reducing our nation’s preterm birth rate from historic highs, the United States still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country,” Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes said in a statement. “A premature birth costs businesses about 12 times as much as uncomplicated healthy birth. As a result, premature birth is a major driver of health insurance costs.”
The challenge for babies’ well-being is overcoming that 37th mark. Infants born at 37 to 38 weeks of their mom’s pregnancy have an increased risk for health problems compared to infants born at 39 weeks, Howse said.
Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont are among the only 6 states to earn an A. Meanwhile, 19 states earned a B; 17 states and the District of Columbia received a C; 5 states got a D, and 3 states and Puerto Rico got Fs on the report card.