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19th Annual Spring Conference
March 26-28 2018

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March of Dimes Says Preterm Birth Rate Increase Is A Wake-Up Call

Statement by Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the March of Dimes

WHITE PLAINS, NY, JUNE 2, 2016 -- For the first time in eight years, the national preterm birth rate has increased rather than decreased, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 2015 preliminary preterm birth rate for the U.S. was up slightly, to 9.62 percent from 9.57 percent in 2014.

This is a wake-up call. Even a slight increase in preterm birth is unacceptable for the nation’s babies. We cannot become complacent about preventing premature birth.  We have made considerable progress, but that progress can be eroded all too easily.

In addition to the slight increase in the overall rate, preterm birth rates rose among African-American babies (13.23 percent to 13.39 percent) and Hispanic babies (9.02 percent to 9.13 percent).  We must redouble our efforts to address health inequities, implement known interventions that reduce preterm birth, and continue to engage our nationwide network of researchers to give every baby a fighting chance.