Each year, the March of Dimes releases “Premature Birth Report Cards” for U.S. states and cities. These report cards are based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, and calculated by comparing each location with the goal of reducing rates of premature birth to 8.1% by the year 2020.
Michigan, which earned a “C” grade in 2018, has the highest rate of premature birth in a decade. Over the past five years, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of Michigan babies that are born too soon.
Statewide, the rate of preterm birth in Michigan is 10.2%. Certain locations, such as Detroit, are doing even more poorly (in 2016, Detroit had the highest rate of preterm birth among America’s largest cities: 14.5%).
According to Kara Hamilton McGraw, director of maternal child health and government affairs for March of Dimes Michigan, increasing rates of premature birth in Michigan and nationwide can be linked to widening health disparities. She told The Detroit News that factors such as race, ethnicity, income, education level, and marital status can impact pregnancy outcomes. In particular, African American women in Michigan experience a 54% higher rate of preterm birth.
“We’ve seen a large increase in racial and ethnic disparity as a driver of preterm childbirth rates across the United States and definitely in Michigan,” noted Hamilton-McGraw. She goes on to emphasize the importance of considering social determinants of health, such as homelessness.
Why is it important to improve rates of premature birth?
If a baby is born prematurely, they are at higher risk for birth injuries and serious health issues such as cerebral palsy (CP). Prematurity is also the largest contributor to infant mortality in the United States. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of death for children under the age of six.
Therefore, preventing premature birth should be a high priority for medical professionals, hospitals, governments, and public health initiatives.
The following are just a few examples of organizations in working to improve prenatal healthcare, prevent preterm birth, and help premature babies in Michigan (some of these organizations also serve people in other states):
- March of Dimes: The March of Dimes advocates for policies that protect the health of mothers and babies, supports research on solutions to medical problems, and works to reduce healthcare inequities.
- SisterFriends Detroit: SisterFriends is a volunteer organization for women of color, focused on helping mothers obtain quality prenatal care, reducing social isolation and stress, and forming lifelong supportive relationships. They work closely with Make Your Date.
- Make Your Date Detroit: Make Your Date is a free prenatal health program aimed at preventing premature birth. They can help women find a doctor, make appointments, get insurance coverage, and more.
- Planned Parenthood Prenatal Program: Planned Parenthood of Michigan offers a variety of low-cost services, including nutritional education, labor support and management, assistance after birth, and much more. They can also help with Medicaid applications.
- Graham’s Foundation: Graham’s foundation focuses on improving outcomes for premature babies and their families, through support groups, research, and advocacy.
Legal help for birth injuries due to premature birth
If your baby was born prematurely and sustained a birth injury, we may be able to help. Our firm is focused on advocating for babies and children who have been harmed by medical malpractice around the time of birth. Please contact us today for a free case evaluation: in fact, you pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win or obtain a favorable settlement.
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Michigan hits highest premature birth rate in a decade. (2018, November 22). Retrieved November 26, 2018, from https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/11/22/preterm-births-increase-michigan-highest-decade/2057774002/
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