(WDVM) — The March of Dimes released the 2021 report card on Monday, Nov. 15. Overall, the United States received a C- for the country’s preterm birth rate.
Stacey D. Stewart, President and Chief Executive Officer of the March of Dimes explained, “One out of every ten babies is born premature in this country.”
Even with room for improvement, this is not bad news, as the preterm birth rate went down slightly from the previous year.
“Though premature birth here declined very slightly, it actually increased for some women in this country, especially Black women, American Indian women and Alaskan Native women,” Stewart said.
Statistics show that women in those three categories are up to 60 percent more likely to give birth prematurely when compared to white women.
While the disparity is seen nationwide, it is an issue in the DMV as well. Stewart explained, “The DMV is sort of almost a microcosm of what we see all over the country. We have areas in the DMV that are doing really well in terms of infant and maternal health, and then we have some areas that are really struggling.”
Even with some areas doing well, each region’s preterm birth rate is above 9.6%.
Dr. Phyllis Dennery, the Department of Pediatrics Chair at Brown University’s Alpert School of Medicine said, “The more immature the baby is in terms of gestational weeks, the more likely they are to face adverse consequences such as brain injury, neurodevelopmental changes, hearing changes and lunch health problems that may follow them through life.”
Stewart said that D.C. in particular has some of the worst rates in the entire region.
She said, “We have to invest to make sure they have access to care and coverage, but also to make sure we are addressing the fundamental issues around health inequity, which are really rooted in racism and discrimination.”
March of Dimes is not only working to educate the public and do research regarding maternal and infant health. The organization is also working to advocate on mothers’ and babies’ behalf with lawmakers, both on the state level and federally.
To check out the full report card yourself, click here.