Texas’ Preterm Birth Rate Improves Slightly to 10.2 Percent

Published 7:48 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Special to The Leader

Texas rate still above national average as the 2016 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card reveals significant rate differences across race and geographies

White Plains, N.Y. — Nov. 1, 2016 — The Texas preterm birth rate fell from 10.3 percent to 10.2 percent according to the 2016 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card in which the state received a C grade. However, disparity of premature rates among different races and ethnicities remains a key issue to address.

“Despite promising programs and some localized improvements, this year’s report shows additional steps need to be taken in Texas to give more babies, especially those of specific communities, a healthier start to life,” said Dr. Janene Israel, March of Dimes Maternal and Child Health State Committee chair. “The issue of preterm birth has become too commonplace and too accepted in our communities.”

The national preterm birth rate increased for the first time in eight years to 9.63 percent, resulting in a grade of C for the country as a whole. The report also revealed a problem: There is an unfair burden of premature birth among racial and ethnic groups as well as geographic areas.

While the March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance, this is not the reality for many mothers and babies in Texas. For example, among counties in Texas where the most babies are born, rates range from 9.1 percent in Travis County to 11 percent in Bexar County. Among black women in Texas, the preterm birth rate is 41 percent higher than the rate among all other women in the state.

In the United States, preterm birth accounts for more than $26 billion annually in avoidable medical and societal costs. To address this issue, a multi-faceted, personal approach is needed to reduce the unfair toll premature birth has on mothers and babies.

The March of Dimes supports eight interventions that when implemented at a personalized level in the most challenged communities can help reduce the preterm birth rate.

In Texas, March of Dimes is working to improve health equity in birth outcomes. For example, Becoming a Mom/Comenzando Bien provides prenatal education to women in low resource communities, including those who only speak Spanish. Of the participants who reported birth outcomes, 95.4 percent stated that they delivered a full-term baby. Programs like Becoming a Mom that are easy to replicate and implement are examples of how collaboration with local communities and health leaders can improve the lives of mothers and babies everywhere.

“With broader awareness and implementation of programs like Becoming a Mom in Texas, we can achieve March of Dimes’ goal to lower the preterm birth rate to 8.1 by 2020,” said Dr. Edward R.B. McCabe, March of Dimes Chief Medical Officer. “America leads the world in medical research and care, yet the U.S. preterm birth rate still ranks among the worst of high resource nations. This is unacceptable, but fixable. Our immediate actions will help give all babies a better tomorrow.”

Join the March of Dimes at marchofdimes.org where you can explore prematurity and disparity in your own state; sign up to raise awareness on World Prematurity Day, and support programs and groundbreaking research attacking the causes of prematurity.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

Premature Birth Report Cards use data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which compiles data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visitmarchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support.