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Preterm birth in Oklahoma

OK (KSWO)- This year, Oklahoma received a grade of ‘C’ for the preterm birth rate on the 2016 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Oklahoma did improve moved up eight spots from 26 to 18 in disparities among racial and ethnic groups.

“Although Oklahoma is making progress, this does not mean victory. Each year thousands of our families are not sharing in this success. No baby should have to battle the health consequences of an early birth,” said Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree, Neonatologist, The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center and Chair of the March of Dimes Maternal Child Health Committee and Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan Child Health Group. “All babies, in Oklahoma and everywhere deserve a healthy start in life.”

Twenty states and Washington D.C also received a grade of ‘C.’ Overall, the United States preterm birth rate worsened for the first time in eight years amidst widening differences in prematurity rates across different races and ethnicities. Preterm birth rates were nearly 48 percent higher among black women and more than 15 percent higher among American Indian/Alaska Native women compared to white women.

"The 2016 March of Dimes Report Card demonstrates that there is an unfair burden of premature birth among specific racial and ethnic groups as well as geographic areas," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "The March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance, yet we see this is not the reality for many mothers and babies. Babies in this country have different chances of surviving and thriving simply based on the circumstances of their birth."

Premature birth is the leading cause of death of babies in the U.S. Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems.

“Americans lead the world in medical research and care, yet the U.S. preterm birth rate still ranks near the bottom of high-resource nations,” Dr. Howse said. “We can do better by mobilizing resources and driving best practices and policies to ensure that no mother or baby falls through the cracks.”

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