Premature Births at Highest Point Since 2007: March of Dimes
By Julia Mueller
The March of Dimes Report Card on maternal and infant health reveals that 10.5% of babies born in the United States were premature (born before 37 weeks of gestational age) in 2021, up 4% from 2020 and marking the highest level since 2007. Declines in premature births were seen in only four states. March of Dimes called the increase in premature births "troubling" and gave the United States an overall D+ on the report card, down from a C- in 2020. "The report card indicates the maternal and infant health crisis is worsening for all families," said March of Dimes. Vermont was given an A- for the lowest premature birth rate of 8%, and B grades were given to Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Additionally, March of Dimes cited racial disparities in premature birth rates, stating, "Infants born to Black and Native American moms are 62% more likely to be born preterm than those born to White women." The organization has called on Congress to permanently extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months after birth and expand access to midwifery care, among other recommendations.
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