Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait’
The U.S. preterm birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 to 11.7 percent, the lowest in a decade, giving thousands more babies a healthy start in life and saving billions in health and social costs.
Four states – Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Maine earned an “A” on the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card as their preterm birth rates met the March of Dimes 9.6 percent goal. Although, the US preterm birth rate improved, it again earned a “C” on the Report Card.
The US preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8, after rising steadily for more than two decades, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. It dropped to 11.7 in 2011, the lowest in a decade.
All this improvement means not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings of roughly $3 billion in health care and economic costs to society, said Dr. Howse, President of the March of Dimes. About 64,000 fewer babies were born preterm in 2010, when compared to 2006, the peak year.
Dr. Howse attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014 from their 2009 rate, based on a challenge issued in 2011 by the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations. On the 2012 Report Card, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2009 and 2011, earning 16 of them better grades.
The largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the improvement was across the board. Every racial and ethnic group benefitted, and there were fewer preterm babies born at all stages of pregnancy.
The March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign urges health care providers and patients not to schedule a delivery until at least 39 completed weeks of pregnancy, unless there is a medical reason to do so. Many important organs, including the baby’s brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Strong Start” initiative is partnering with the March of Dimes to raise awareness about the importance of a full term pregnancy through paid advertising support and collaboration with hospitals to improve perinatal care.
The March of Dimes Report Card compares each state’s preterm birth rate to the March of Dimes goal of lowering the rate to 9.6 percent of all live births by 2020. The Report Card information for the U.S. and states is available at this link.
Forty-eight states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have pledged their support to give more babies a healthy start in life by reducing premature birth and infant mortality, the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) announced today. One goal of the Healthy Babies Challenge is decreasing the country’s prematurity rates by 8 percent by the year 2014.
Nearly half a million babies, just less than 12 percent, are born too soon each year. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and others. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm, and more than one million die each year.
Meeting the 2014 goal would lower the nation’s preterm birth to about 11 percent, and save about $2 billion in health care and socio-economic costs.
In addition to the physical and emotional challenges associated with prematurity, a 2005 Institute of Medicine report found that preterm birth and associated complications had cost the United States at least $26.2 billion that year. Reducing prematurity offers Healthy Babies Challenge participants the opportunity to save lives and reduce healthcare costs in their states.
From coast to coast, and without regard to politics, health officials in these 48 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico have signed on to help more babies get a healthy start in life. Participating state health departments are partnering with the March of Dimes to address infant health needs, including helping more women quit smoking during pregnancy, promoting breastfeeding, increasing access to prenatal care, and conducting the “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” initiative with hospitals to educate the public about the health benefits carrying a baby full term.
In addition to ASTHO and the March of Dimes, many other organizations and agencies have funded and worked on programs with the common goal of improving birth outcomes. The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs has long been a leader in the field; the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Healthy Start has been working to eliminate health disparities in child and maternal health for two decades; the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other agencies recently launched the Strong Start program to “reduce the risk of significant complications and long-term health problems for both expectant mothers and newborns;” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed maternal and child health as priorities in both Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020.
For more information on the Healthy Babies Challenge, read the full press release.
The March of Dimes campaign to reduce medically unnecessary early deliveries is being elevated to the forefront of the nation’s maternal and child health agenda.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the launch of Strong Start, a multi-faceted perinatal health campaign. This public-private partnership includes expansion of “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait™” — the March of Dimes public awareness campaign to let women and health care providers know that if a pregnancy is healthy, it is best to wait for labor to begin on its own, rather than scheduling an induction of labor or a cesarean section.
“Premature birth is a serious health problem, and the public and private collaboration that will be generated by the Strong Start program is the single most important step forward to date in our nation’s prematurity prevention efforts,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, March of Dimes president. “Working together to eliminate medically unnecessary early deliveries will reduce the emotional and financial burden of prematurity for thousands of families.”
Nearly a half million babies are born too soon each year in the United States. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often have breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and other health challenges. Recent research has shown that important development of an infant’s brain and lungs occur during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness compared to full-term infants.
Through its “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” public awareness campaign, the March of Dimes educates women that if their pregnancy is healthy, it is best to wait for labor to begin on its own. The March of Dimes also is working with hospitals to implement best practices that discourage early elective deliveries before at least 39 completed weeks of gestation.
The March of Dimes awareness campaign includes television, online and print public service advertising, as well as patient education materials. Through Strong Start, these will be co-branded with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and distributed more widely. (More information for women is available online at marchofdimes.com/39weeks.)
In addition, HHS has pledged to encourage participation by the thousands of hospitals across the country that have joined the HHS Partnership for Patients – a national, voluntary effort to improve health care safety and reduce avoidable harm.
In June the March of Dimes launched its “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” campaign that stresses the importance of carrying your baby to full term. Since the launch, we have received a few comments from some women who were unable to make it to 39 weeks and feel that our message is suggesting that somehow they failed. Not so at all!
The March of Dimes maintains that if a pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks, or until labor begins on its own. The March of Dimes tells women that if you’re healthy and have a choice and you’re planning to schedule your baby’s birth, wait until at least 39 weeks because your baby’s brain, lungs and other organs will continue to develop. The fact of the matter, however, is that you might not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby earlier. We firmly believe that the health of each mom and baby should always be of primary concern.
Today, Parents Magazine is celebrating its 85th year providing helpful information to parents. We salute their good work and thank them for their support in helping us spread the news about the importance of waiting for 39 weeks. Full term pregnancies help all babies have a healthy start.