Premature Births Up Nationwide, Down In 3 States: Attorney Explains
Premature births continue to be on the rise nationwide, according to the latest statistics. But there was some good news to emerge from the latest premature birth rate report. Three states and Puerto Rico experienced a decline in their premature birth rates. So what are they doing right? And what are other states doing wrong? Premature birth attorney Nelson Tyrone of the Tyrone Law Firm, PC explains the findings and what they mean for you.
Why the number of premature births matter
As reported on National Public Radio (NPR) and other news outlets, the March of Dimes recently released its annual premature birth report card for the United States. The report is based on data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Premature birth is defined as any birth that occurs before 37 weeks of gestation. The survival rate for babies born prematurely has increased in recent years. But according to the CDC, “babies born prematurely remain at a higher risk of a range of developmental problems later in life, like cerebral palsy, vision and hearing problems, as well as developmental delays,” NPR reported.
Why premature births increased nationwide
The March of Dimes report card examined the premature birth rate nationwide and statewide for 2017. That year, the rate of premature births nationwide increased for the third year in a row – to 9.93 percent of all births being classified as premature, up from 9.85 percent in 2016.
What accounts for the increase? According to the March of Dimes report, social and economic factors play a big role, according to Becky Russell, the senior director of applied research and evaluation at March of Dimes. Specifically, Russell said, “unequal access to maternal care, and high poverty rates.” A mother’s race or ethnicity was also a factor. Specifically, black women have a 49 percent higher rate of premature births compared to women of all other races.
Where premature births decreased nationwide
But premature births decreased in:
- Iowa – The premature birth rate decreased from 9.3 percent of births in 2016 to 9.2 percent in 2017.
- Puerto Rico – Decreased from 11.5 percent to 11.4 percent.
- Wyoming – Decreased from 9.5 percent to 8.9 percent
- Rhode Island – Decreased from 9.3 percent to 8.3 percent.
While the declines in Iowa, Puerto Rico and Wyoming are minor, Rhode Island is an interesting case study.
Solutions to premature birth crisis
Rhode Island is good example of what can be done to lower a state’s premature birth rate. The state made an effort to lower its premature birth rate starting in 2007, when 10.8 percent of babies were born prematurely.
In 2007, Rhode Island formed a task force to study how to lower its premature birth rate. As part of such efforts, the state took the following steps:
- The state worked to expand health coverage for pregnant and postpartum women.
- Health care providers created a program to discuss women’s pregnancy plans.
- If women indicated they want to become pregnant, health care providers scheduled regular visits.
- The state made efforts to improve how, where and when reproductive health care is delivered.
The bottom line is that pregnant women need access to health care during their pregnancy. And doctors need to be trained to identify warning signs that something could be wrong.
What this means for you if your child has a premature birth injury
Prematurity can increase a child’s risk for injury including:
- Lung or respiratory issues
- Heart problems
- Vision problems (including retinopathy)
- Brain injuries (resulting in development issues)
However, while prematurity may make a child more susceptible to injury, our medical reviews over the years often linked medical negligence and carelessness from OBGYNs, Labor and Delivery Nurses and Hospitals to the injuries of premature babies. Put another way, we often find that the prematurity is not the cause of the child’s injuries – but negligence by doctors and nurses is.
If your child has any of these issues or others, it could be due to carelessness, negligence, and mistakes made by medical professionals before, during or shortly after your child’s birth. That’s why it’s important to talk to a birth injury lawyer who can explain the legal options available to you. To learn more, simply contact our law firm and schedule your free consultation today.