When I was going to school, my parents told me to work hard and bring home good grades. I took that message to heart and did the best that I could and brought home a great report card for them to see. Sometimes, I would get a grade that really needed improvement and my teachers and family would help. When I did improve my grade, we all celebrated cautiously. I always remembered that I could do better and set about to do just that. I learned a lot from my reports and use some of these same lessons with my own kids.
Now for the improvement and celebrating!!
The March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card was released today! Grades are based on comparing each state’s and the nation’s 2011 preliminary preterm birth rates with the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The United States gets a grade of “C” for the 11.7 % rate of premature births. Although this is not the wished for “all As” it has been a steady improvement from 12.8% in 2006!
After I got my report card as a kid, I compared it with my friends. We do that in the chapter as well as we have Maryland, Virginia and DC. Sometimes I did better than my friends for many reasons and sometimes they did the same. So here is how the report cards stack out in the three areas of the chapter.
Virginia lowered its preterm birth rate, which has always been lower than the national rate, to 11.2 percent. The commonwealth earned its first “B” grade. Although Maryland’s statistics decreased from 2009 to 2010 and its preterm birth rate declined to 12.5 percent, it was not enough to change its grade, which remains a, “C.” The District of Columbia’s rate improved to 13.7 percent but the change wasn’t enough to earn it a better grade, “D” on the annual Report Card. Despite the continued improvement in prevention of preterm births, an estimated 460,000 babies were born preterm in the nation last year.
We’re proud to see preterm birth rates improving, thanks to the work of the March of Dimes and our partners. This progress means that more babies are being born healthy, excess health care costs are being reduced and families are being spared the heartache of having a baby born too soon,” said Robin Baker, M.D., a neonatologist with Fairfax Neonatal Associates and a local March of Dimes board member. “Although preterm birth rates improved in recent years, we must do more to ensure a healthy birth for all babies. Partnerships with health care providers and local hospitals have helped us make newborn health a priority and lowered our preterm birth rate, making a difference in babies’ lives.”
The March of Dimes attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials in Virginia, Maryland and, the District of Columbia. In Maryland and the National Capital Area, March of Dimes programs such as centering pregnancy and the Mama & Baby Bus help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. The nonprofit is also supporting hospitals efforts to end early elective deliveries. Additionally, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the March of Dimes adopted an interim goal of an eight percent reduction in the preterm birth rate by 2014.
Dr. Baker continued, “We will continue to work together to improve access to health care, help women quit smoking and through our Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait consumer education campaign, encourage women and health care providers to avoid scheduling a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless medically necessary.”
So, we did not bring in all As, but we have allowed hundreds of families in the chapter to go home with their babies right after delivery. A’s not yet! Progress priceless!