Premature Birth Rate Declines In US

For two rows in a row, premature birth rates have been declining in USA, for the first time in three decades, which indicates the country is making progress in its fight against prematurity.

Premature Birth Rate Declines In USAccording to the report issued by the government’s National Centre for Health Statistics, in all states except for Hawaii, the declines are widespread and encompassing, including babies of mothers in all age groups under 40, all ethnicities, singleton and multiple births, vaginal and caesarean births.

Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation are considered premature, with such early births associated with a variety of health problems, such as, developmental delays, breathing problems, cerebral palsy and mental retardation. While, the USA has one of the highest pre-term birth rates in the world, double that of Europe, which has among the lowest.

Despite the decline, over half a million babies are still born prematurely every year, in the States.

The new data compiled from the National Vital Statistics System that collects data on births, deaths, marriages etc., shows the pre-term birth rate to have dropped from 12.8% in 2006 to 12.3% in 2008, following an increase of nearly one-third from the early 1980s to 2006.

The percentage of infants born between 34 and 37 weeks of gestation dropped from 9.1% to 8.8%, while the rate for those born earlier, a period associated with the most severe complications dropped from 3.7% to 3.6%.

The African Americans showed the biggest pre-term drop from 18.5% to 17.5%, declining through much of the 1990s, growing again between 2000 and 2006.

Following a small increase in the preceding year, the rate for Latinos dropped from 12.3% to 12.1% between 2007 and 2008.

The pre-term birth rate in 35 states, including California fell significantly, increasing only in Hawaii. According to previous research, the incidence of preterm births grew due to increases in the early induction of labour and caesarean deliveries, which rates dropped along with pre-term birth rate.