MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The 2017 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card is out and Alabama got an "F" with a preterm birth rate of 12 percent.
While Alabama gets a failing grade, the nation as a whole is also seeing a disturbing reversal of good news after a nearly decade-long decline in premature births. Still, Alabama trails the national "C" grade average.
"The 2017 March of Dimes Report Card demonstrates that moms and babies in this country face a higher risk of preterm birth based on race and zip code," Stacey D Stewart, president, March of Dimes said. "We see that preterm birth rates worsened in 43 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and among all racial/ethnic groups. This is an unacceptable trend that requires immediate attention."
Alabama is one of four states on the failing list with only Mississippi (13.6) and Louisiana (12.6) having higher rates. Despite still failing, West Virginia (11.8) and Puerto Rico (11.5) still have better rates than Alabama. A full map can be seen below.
Preterm birth, or being born before 37 weeks, is the largest contributor to infant death in the U.S., according to the March of Dimes. More than 380,000 babies are born preterm in the U.S. each year and they face a greater likelihood of death before their first birthday. If they do survive, they face the possibility of lifelong disabilities and chronic health conditions.
An additional 8,000 babies were born prematurely in 2016 due to the increase in the preterm birth rate between 2015 and 2016, the March of Dimes said.
March of Dimes wants to see the national average fall to 8.1 percent by 2020, down from its current rate of 9.8 percent.
The March of Dimes says there's no single cause for preterm births and no simple solution to solving the problem but it's working to expand research, increase education, strengthen advocacy for policies that prioritize the health of moms and babies, and expand clinical programs.
ON THE WEB: www.marchofdimes.org