March of Dimes Gives Indiana “B” For Preterm Births
By Matt Popovich
(Undated) – Indiana babies are becoming increasingly healthy, but there is still work to be done.
Since 2009, Indiana’s premature birth rate – those occurring before 37 weeks – has decreased by 8.4 percent statewide.
Indiana was one of 19 states awarded a letter grade of “B” in the March of Dimes’ 2013 Premature Birth Report Card released Friday. The new letter grade was given to Indiana because the state lowered its’ premature birth rate to 10.9 percent. States are eligible to receive an “A” rating when rates for premature births fall below 9.6 percent statewide.
Among the “B” grade holders, Indiana ranked 14th.
Six states in the country have earned an “A” rating: Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont.
Ohio and Kentucky were among the 17 states and District of Columbia receiving a “C”. The U.S. as a whole earned a “C”.
With help from the March of Dimes, Indiana is leading the nation in the fight to lower the rates of premature births. Indiana was one of four states to receive the prestigious Virginia Apgar Award from the March of Dimes. The award – named after Dr. Virginia Apgar, who developed the five-point Apgar score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth – is given to states that have drastically decreased their annual premature birth rates between 2009 and 2013.
“This award is a reflection of the effort and dedication of health care providers of maternal and newborn care, health care organizations, and health departments throughout our state,” says Tim Arndt with March of Dimes. “We congratulate the Indiana State Department of Health and our Health Commissioner on the work they have done to help babies.”
The March of Dimes is hoping to increase awareness about the dangers of premature birth. Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others.
The March of Dimes says that if every state met the eight percent challenge, it would push the nation’s preterm birth rate down to about 11 percent; giving an estimated 40,000 more babies a healthy start in life. Such a change could save about $2 billion in health care and socio-economic costs.