The United States is among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth. A new report shows more than 10% of births were preterm last year.
Reporter Naomi Ruchim takes a closer look for this week’s edition of Here for Health.
The preterm birthrate in the U.S. remains near an all-time high, according to the March of Dimes Annual Report Card. Data on preterm births from the CDC finds 10.5% of births happened before 37 weeks of pregnancy in 2021 — the highest percentage ever.
In 2022, that number dropped to 10.4%, a negligible difference, according to the head of the March of Dimes.
“If you look at the data over the last 20 years, we, we haven’t made any improvements, and it’s really going in the wrong direction. Moms and babies are not at the center of healthcare,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, CEO and President of March of Dimes.
The March of Dimes organization gives the U.S. a “D+” grade overall, while eight individual states and Puerto Rico earned an “F.”
The data also highlights significant racial disparities. Black and Native American women are 54% more likely to have a preterm birth compared to white women. Preterm births are one of the leading causes of infant deaths in the U.S., and CDC data shows the infant mortality rate rose 3% last year — the largest spike in more than two decades.
The new report also shows maternal deaths have almost doubled in the U.S. since 2018.
“I can’t believe that Black babies are two times more likely not to make their first birthday, compared to their white counterparts,” Cherot said.