The preterm birth rate in Georgia rose for the third consecutive year, to 11.5%, according to the 2019 March of Dimes report card.
That translates in a failing grade, making Georgia one of only six U.S. states to receive an F on the report. Puerto Rico also received an F.
The preterm birth rate in the United States worsened for a fourth year, from 9.63% in 2015 to 10.02% in 2018. Rates were determined from the National Center for Health Statistics, 2018 final natality data. In addition to the increasing rates of preterm birth, each year, more than 22,000 babies die in the U.S. before their first birthday — that’s two babies every hour, the March of Dimes said.
In Georgia, the preterm rate is nearly back to 2008’s high of 11.7% and has been climbing since its 2013 low of 10.7%. Premature or preterm birth is a birth with fewer than 37 weeks gestation.
“Every American should be alarmed about the state of maternal and infant health in this country, because it is an issue that touches each one of us. This is one crisis, not two. The health of moms and babies is powerfully linked, and we need to start treating it as such,” said Stacey D. Stewart, president and CEO of March of Dimes.
Black women in Georgia have the highest rate of preterm births — 13.9% — which is 45% higher than the rate among all other ethnicities.
In the metro Atlanta area, only one county received a grade above D+. Gwinnett County received a C- from the March of Dimes. It’s preterm birth rate of 10.1% is an improvement over the previous year. Although DeKalb County also improved its rate — down from 11.1% to 10.6% — it received only a D+. Clayton County’s rate was the highest at 12.7%, earning it an F.
Georgia’s failing grade is not surprising. In a recent analysis by the personal finance website WalletHub, Georgia ranked No. 46 among the best and worst states to have a baby.
According to the March of Dimes, the estimated societal cost per preterm birth —which includes medical care for premature children, maternal delivery costs, early intervention services, special education services and lost productivity — is $65,000, making this an issue not just for parents, but for everyone.
You can read the full report on the March of Dimes website.
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