Mamas on Bedrest: US Preterm Birth Rate Drops to a 15 Year Low

February 24th, 2014

Great News Mamas!

According to a November 1, 2013 report released by The March of Dimes, The US Preterm Birth Rate is at a 15 year low of 11.5%. The preterm birth rate has dropped for the sixth year in a row according to 2012 reports, the lowest it’s been since 1998. The US Preterm birth rate peaked at 12.8% in 2006.

While these numbers are encouraging, the March of Dimes still gives the United States a grade of C overall in terms of preterm births when compared to other nations. According to March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer Howse, PhD, there are still too many states with poor or failing grades when it comes to preterm births. The US ranks highest of all industrialized nations in regards to premature births. The goal of the March of Dimes is to achieve a preterm birth rate of 9.6% by 2020.

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The March of Dimes cites the increased developmental challenges of premature infants as their main motivation for wanting to lower the preterm birth rate.

“Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of serious and sometimes lifelong health problems, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss and cerebral palsy. Babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies. Even infants born at 37-38 weeks of pregnancy have an increased risk for health problems compared to infants born at 39 weeks.”

However, the March of Dimes cites another, and perhaps even more widely understandable reason to lower preterm labor and preterm births-cost. According to the Institute of Medicine, Preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is a serious health crisis that costs the US more than $26 billion annually. Dr. Howse states,

“A premature birth costs businesses about 12 times as much as an uncomplicated healthy birth. As a result, premature birth is a major driver of health insurance costs not only for employers.”

Additionally, The March of Dimes estimates that, “since 2006, about 176,000 fewer babies have been born too soon because of improvement in the preterm birth rate, potentially saving about $9 billion in health and societal costs.”

So given the almost untenable cost of health care in this country and the morbidity and mortality associated with preterm infants, it behooves the US to continue to do what it can to reduce rates of preterm labor and preterm birth.

The March of Dimes noted that while rates of preterm labor are down overall, disparities persist. The preterm birth rate for non-hispanic blacks is still an alarming 16.8% down from 18.5% in 2006 and the lowest it’s been in 20 years. The rates of preterm births in blacks, while narrowing, still remains 1.5 times that of whites.

So mamas, while I know that bedrest is hard, it is boring, it is painful (physically and emotionally) for the time being, it is what we have and it may be contributing to the reduction in preterm births. Now mind you, there is no scientific or medical data that concretely links bedrest with improved birth outcomes. But if you are placed on prescribed bed rest and you deliver a term infant or deliver after 37 weeks, you have helped do a monumental thing for the health and life of your baby. So keep it up mamas! Hang in there! You can do this!!! And if there is anything that we here at Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond can do, please don’t hesitate to contact us-here in the comments section of this blog post or at 


MedScape OB/GYN Women’s Health

“US Preterm Birth Rate Drops to a 15 Year Low, But More to Go” By Megan Brooks, November 1, 2013

The March of Dimes “US Preterm Birth Rate Drops to 15 Year Low”  Elizabeth Lynch and Todd Dezen

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