Premature Birth Rate High in the United States

A May 2012 report by the World Health Organization states that nearly 15 million babies are born prematurely every year worldwide. More than one million of those babies die, while a large number suffer permanent physical, neurological or developmental disability. Surprisingly, the United States ranks 6th among all countries in terms of the number of premature births each year, amounting to about 12% of all births (or more than one in nine). This is a higher rate than in Europe, Canada, Australia or Japan, as well as higher than a number of less-developed countries as well. Suspected reasons for the large number includes the increase in the number of older women having babies, more fertility drug use and rising multiple pregnancy rates.

State Grades: Michigan, Ohio and Other Midwestern States Score at Average Level; Washington, D.C. Below Average

The March of Dimes also recently released their annual Premature Birth Report Card that grades the rates of premature births in individual states. Babies are considered premature if they are born prior to 37 weeks gestation. Only one state – Vermont- received an “A” grade for its low rate (9.3%) of preterm births. Michigan (12.4%), Ohio (12.3%) and 17 other states received “C” grades while Washington DC (14.2%) and 11 other states received “D” grades. Grades for each state can be accessed through the March of Dimes website.

Risk Factors and Treatment for Premature Birth

While specific causes for preterm birth are difficult to identify, there are a number factors that contribute to the risk of having a preterm baby. They include:

Effective treatments to avoid premature preterm delivery include:

  • Cerclage (a stitch put into the cervix to hold it closed)
  • Bedrest
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Medications including progesterone and tocolytics

Correct and adequate treatment can avoid preterm delivery and the risks to the baby of intracranial bleeding, cognitive impairments and cerebral palsy.If there is a threatened pre-term delivery despite all efforts to postpone delivery, doctors can also administer steroids to quickly increase fetal lung maturity and decrease the risk of injury to the baby.

Due to the frequency of this obstetrical emergency, hospitals and health care professionals must have plans in place to recognize risk factors and provide the appropriate treatment. If they fail to do so, they may be negligent.


Regardless of whether you reside in Michigan, Ohio, and Washington DC or elsewhere in the United States, if your child was born premature and has now been diagnosed with neurological, physical or developmental disabilities including learning problems, cerebral palsy, developmental delays or birth defects, you may be entitled to compensation. Email Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers or call us at 888-419-2229 for free advice.

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