march-of-dimes-logoIowa ranks 19th among the states in a new report on premature birth rates. According to the March of Dimes, nearly one of out 10 babies in Iowa is born too soon.

“Pre-term births, meaning delivery less than 37 weeks gestation, is the number one killer of babies,” says Michelle Gogerty, state director of programs and advocacy for the March of Dimes, “so it’s imperative that we reduce that number.”

In 2014, 9.3 percent of the babies born in Iowa were premature. Gogerty says it’s “difficult to pinpoint” a major cause for premature births.

“You can do everything that you were supposed to do during a pregnancy and deliver prematurely,” Gogerty says. “so that’s why it’s really important that we continue all the research that’s happening within the state of Iowa and nationally at March of Dimes.”

Gogerty says there are all sorts of risk factors for premature births, including existing health problems like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Women who drink alcohol or smoke during pregnancy are at higher risk of having their baby prematurely.

Here’s the national March of Dimes “Premature Birth Rate Report Card“. Here are the details on Iowa and it singles out premature birth rates for six of Iowa’s largest counties.