A report card from the March of Dimes being released today gives Iowa a “D” grade for its rate of preterm births. About one in every nine births in Iowa is premature. Stephen Hunter, a University of Iowa professor of obstetrics and gynecology, says the low grade wasn’t a surprise.
Dr. Hunter says, “We had a ‘D’ last year and we didn’t expect to see much improvement yet this year because the prematurity rate actually hasn’t changed a whole lot.” Overall, the nation got a “D” in the report. As for states, there were no “A” grades, only Vermont got a “B,” there were a dozen “Cs,” and a majority of the states, like Iowa, got “Ds” or failing grades. Hunter, the prematurity chair for the March of Dimes Iowa chapter, explains how the grades were figured.
Hunter says, “They compare the preterm birth rate to get the grade with the healthy 2010 preterm birth objective, which was 7.6%, and we come in at about 11.6% so, considerably above that, although we are below the national average of 12.7%.” Many factors that contribute to premature birth aren’t yet understood, but Hunter says research is continuing to identify causes and prevention strategies, improve the outcomes of preterm infants and to better define and track the problem.
“The whole issue of prematurity puts us in dire straits,” Hunter says. “The cost of preterm birth costs this nation $26-billion every year. That in and of itself is a dire statement.” He says progress is gradual and focused on several areas, like getting expectant mothers to quit smoking. Hunter says he’s also encouraging moms and doctors not to pursue elective deliveries before 39 weeks.
Hunter says, “Offering women who have a history of preterm delivery a progesterone supplementation has been shown to decrease recurrent preterm birth and assuring that women can get prenatal care during pregnancy has also been shown to decrease preterm birth.”
To see the full report, click on this link: “www.marchofdimes.com“.