ARLINGTON, Virginia., November 15, 2021 / PRNewswire / – March of Dimes, the nation’s leader in maternal and baby health, today released its 2021 report, which found the U.S. preterm birth rate rose slightly from 10.2% to 10 for the first time in six years That has declined 1% Nation retains its C-class. In Washington, DC, the premature birth rate fell from 10.4% to 9.8%, which earned the city a grade C on this year’s certificate. Despite fewer premature births and a sustained decline in infant mortality across the country, maternal mortality rates and women with severe pregnancy complications continue to rise. More than 700 women in the US die each year from pregnancy-related causes, and in the past 30 years these deaths have more than doubled.
These statistics are far worse for black mothers and babies as deeply ingrained structural racism directly affects their health. In Washington, DC, there is a lot to do as the premature birth rate in black women is 85% higher than in any other woman. The testimony highlights the stark differences that affect all maternal and child health policies, and outlines the policies and partnerships needed to improve the health of our nation’s families.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was one of the most dangerous developed countries for childbirth. The testimony shows that the number of preterm births in the US has decreased from 383,061 to 364,487, but black and Native American / Native American / Indigenous women are still up to 60% more likely to have premature births compared to white women. We see the same disparities in infant mortality, which has slowly declined in recent years. However, black and Native American / Alaskan babies are still twice as likely to die as white babies before their first birthday. In addition, black women are three times more likely to die than their white counterparts.
The complexity of this crisis lies in the fact that it has neither a single cause nor a single solution. Factors such as a person’s place of residence and the structural and societal systems in which they live all affect maternal and baby health and create a gap in health equity. For example in Washington, DC, 17.5% of women receive inadequate prenatal care during their pregnancy. More research and data collection is needed to better understand and track changes in preterm birth rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, March of Dimes is working to develop a better understanding of late premature birth and the data during the pandemic as a whole.
“Although we’ve seen a slight improvement in premature births and infant mortality rates, communities of color are still disproportionately affected,” said March of Dimes President and CEO Stacey D. Stewart. “We are seeing the same trend of maternal health inequality and are the result of a complex web of factors that reinforce this health equity gap. We know every family can have a healthy start and we must work together to change course “this crisis to make sure they all do.”
Today’s structures and systems, rooted for centuries in racist, biased and unfair policies and practices, contribute to and reinforce racial differences in access to resources, social conditions and opportunities. These policies, which for centuries have systematically penalized underserved and colored communities, result in persistent, unjust poor health outcomes for mothers and infants for colored communities.
In an effort to address these racial differences and understand all of the factors that lead to them, the testimony includes several new measurements aimed at improving birth outcomes and lowering maternal death and disease rates, including:
- The CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index shows counties with populations that are more vulnerable and therefore at greater risk for poor health outcomes.
- Legislation / guidelines for midwives and doula care: Both of these can help improve access to health care in underserved areas, improve birth outcomes, and reduce maternal death and disease rates. For example the Washington, DC The certificate shows that both direct entry midwives and certified midwives are not allowed to practice in the state and doulas are not covered by Medicaid.
- Low risk caesarean births: A caesarean section is considered low risk if a single child is delivered upside down to a mother who is at least 37 weeks pregnant and has never given birth. In 2019, a quarter of the births (25.6%) were born by caesarean section that were considered to be low-risk. Look specifically Washington, DC, 28% of low risk births were delivered by caesarean section.
“By looking at the new measure of social vulnerability, birth rates in low-risk Caesarean sections, and government enactment of doula and midwifery laws, we provide additional information to help us identify underserved areas and access and quality of care said March of Dimes Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr. Zsakeba Henderson.
Dr. Henderson noted that even in low-risk women, there are several reasons why a caesarean section would be the safest option for both mother and baby. Different patterns of practice in hospitals across the country can be a driving force behind the excessive use of this procedure.
2021 March of Dimes premature birth rates
Every year the March of Dimes publishes its report with grades for individual states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and top 100 cities. The report card shows that preterm births have deteriorated in a total of 13 states, with six states and Puerto Rico receive a failed grade, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South carolina, and West Virginia. Vermont is the only state that receives the grade “A”.
In addition, the Report Card looks at the 100 US cities with the highest number of births, assigning a grade based on the premature birth rate.
Measures to deal with the crisis
March of Dimes leads the fight for all mothers and babies through research, education, programs, and advocacy. Since its inception, the organization has worked with a variety of partners nationally and locally to address the greatest threats to mothers and babies. To this end, March is Dime is gathering partners to urge policy makers to prioritize the health of our nation’s families. Through our #BlanketChange Policy Agenda, we focus on all of these political issues that are in our testimony and adoption of the Momnibus law for the health of the black mother from 2021. Join the #BlanketChange movement to call on policy makers to give priority to our nation’s mothers and babies and take immediate action to improve their health by visiting BlanketChange.org.
March of Dimes works nationally and locally to fill the gap in health equity: As an organizer, March of Dimes mobilizes partners nationally through the Mom and Baby Action Network (M-BAN) and currently in nine US communities through local Collective Impact Initiatives. At both levels, they use Collective Impact, a proven approach to working with cross-industry stakeholders to solve complex challenges. Learn more at IgnitingImpactTogether.org.
To view testimony and actions taken in support of mothers and babies, visit marchofdimes.org/ReportCard.
ABOUT MARCH OF DIMES
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all mothers and babies. For more than 80 years, the March of Dimes has helped millions of babies survive and thrive, and is now building on that legacy to create a level playing field for all mothers and babies, regardless of age, socioeconomic background, or demographics.
Before becoming leaders in maternal and infant health, March of Dimes was known to beat the polio epidemic (Historical footage and photos available). president Franklin D. Roosevelts The personal battle with polio led to the creation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now known as the March of Dimes. The organization pioneered vaccine research that led to polio eradication in the United States., and then shifted focus to address some of the biggest health threats to mothers and babies.
SOURCE March of Dimes Inc.