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Premature Birth Rates In Florida Increase Again

The number of babies being born prematurely is on the rise in Florida. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

The March of Dimes has awarded Florida a C- ranking when it comes its rate of premature births, a ranking only slightly worse than the national average.

Early delivery – defined as less than 37 weeks of pregnancy – is one key indicator of maternal and infant health. It increased in Florida this year to 10.3 percent. This compares to a rate of 10.2% from the previous year.

Read the full March of Dimes Report Card 2019 for Florida here

Overall, preterm birth rates in the U.S. increased for the fourth year in a row, with Florida ranking 33rd among the 50 states.

RELATED: Premature Birth Rates Rise Again, But A Few States Are Turning Things Around

For black women, the numbers are even worse.

“In Tampa, for example, the rate of preterm birth was really about the same as it is the state of about 10.3%,” said Stacey Stewart D Stewart, President and CEO of March of Dimes.

“But the preterm birth rate for Woman of Florida is 52% higher than it is for white women.”

Stewart says this is in large part to “implicit bias” in health care, when medical professionals don’t take the concerns of black women as seriously. Black women are also more likely to make less money, and have worse access to affordale health care and prenatal care.

In Florida, the preterm birth rate among black women is 52% higher than the rate among all other women.

The March of Dimes Report Card 2019 shows a 25 percent increase over the last decade in the cost of premature births.

“For every baby that’s born prematurely, it costs the state around $65,000. So it probably costs us less, to actually do something to prevent these things from happening in the first place.”

The report suggest that the rise in premature births – overall – is in large part because of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

In Florida, March of Dimes recommends the following:

  • Comprehensive Medicaid coverage extension for all women to at least one year postpartum
  • Group prenatal care enhanced reimbursement
  • Maternal mortality review committees

According to the report, the U.S. is among the most dangerous developed nations in which to give birth. Beside the increasing rates of preterm birth, each year, 22,000 babies die in the U.S – two babies an hour.

Approximately every 12 hours, a woman dies due to complications resulting from pregnancy, and the report says more than 60 percent of these deaths are preventable.

WUSF is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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