It's the reason thousands of babies don't make it to their first birthday: they were born too soon.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Babies born before 37 weeks gestation often face lifelong health problems. According to the March of Dimes, they include breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.
The March of Dimes released it's Premature Birth Report Card today. Connecticut earned a grade of 'B.' At 9.2%, the state did better than the national average of 9.6% according to The National Center for Health Statistics. In fact, because Connecticut met the March of Dime's 2020 goal of 9.6% early, the state received both the March of Dimes Franklin Delano Roosevelt Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award and the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award. The March of Dimes has now revised the goal for 2020 to be 8.1% so that more than 200,000 fewer babies will be born premature.
The report also highlights which communities are in need of more help. Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford and Waterbury all had higher preterm birth rates than the statewide average. Dr. Christopher Morosky, Assistant Professor, Dept.of Ob-Gyn at UConn Health Center, and co-chair, Program Services Committee for the March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter says “We’re proud that our state does a better than average job of preventing premature births, but despite the progress, premature birth is the number one killer of babies and not all of our families are sharing in our success. There are large gaps in the preterm birth rate between communities in our state, and racial and ethnic disparities persist.” Connecticut ranked 11th on the disparity index with a score of 18 to indicate the gaps between racial and ethnic groups in its preterm birth rate. In New Haven however, the preterm birth rate was better than the state average.
There are a number of ways you can lend your support. You can pledge purple for preemies. Visit this page ahead of World Prematurity Day on November 17th to find useful social media tools, such as profile pictures or information to share or tweet. You can also read the entire report and see how other states compared here.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.