Every year the March of Dimes reviews where we are as a nation in reducing premature birth. Being born too early can impact a child’s ability to live a healthy life. It is one of the leading causes of infant death. Arizona has been improving the preterm birth rate for the past 7 years. In 2006, our rate was 13.2 and in 2013, we’re at 11.6. That means fewer Arizona babies are being born prematurely. Despite that improvement, this year’s report card gives Arizona a “C”.
While there was some improvement in our state (for example the number of women who smoke dropped from 14.7% to 11.7%), the rate of babies born too soon increased. In real terms almost 8,000 babies were born prematurely in Arizona last year.
The good news is we have strong partnerships with the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter and the Arizona Perinatal Trust to work to reduce premature births. Ensuring that women are healthy before they become pregnant (also called Preconception health) and waiting until a baby is at least 39 weeks to electively deliver are two of our strategies to help reduce premature births.