After receiving failing grades for the past two years, Delaware has earned a grade of D on the third annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. The passing grade comes as a result of Delaware’s preterm birth rate, birth before 37-week gestation, dropping to 12.9%.


After receiving failing grades for the past two years, Delaware has earned a grade of D on the third annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. The passing grade comes as a result of Delaware’s preterm birth rate, birth before 37-week gestation, dropping to 12.9%. The 2010 U.S. objective for preterm birth is 7.6%.

The March of Dimes released its 2010 report card on the 8th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day, when the nation is asked to focus attention on the problem of premature birth. In Delaware, 12.9% of babies were born too soon, before their lungs, brains or other organs were fully developed.

“We hope that this is just the beginning of trend, and we’re proud to see that the March of Dimes investment in Delaware is reaping benefits for moms and babies,” said Dr. Garret H.C. Colmorgen, March of Dimes volunteer and Prematurity Campaign chair for Delaware. “We hope to see even more success thanks to the cooperation from the Division of Public Health, The Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium, and wonderful community partners like Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and other health care providers.”

Following three decades of increases, in 2008 the nation achieved the first two-year decline in the preterm birth rate, when the preliminary preterm birth rate dropped to 12.3%. However, the March of Dimes said the rate is still too far from the Healthy People 2010 goal of 7.6% and gave the nation a D.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death and babies who survive often face a lifetime health challenges, including learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. Even infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby’s health because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

In Delaware, the March of Dimes supports research, local community grants, newborn intensive care family support programs, education projects and advocacy initiatives across the state which work to prevent preterm birth and help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

There are known strategies that can lower the risk of an early birth, such as smoking cessation, preconception care, early prenatal care, progesterone treatments for women with a history of preterm birth, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments and avoiding unnecessary c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks.

The March of Dimes recently released a tool kit to help lower the number of medically unnecessary c-sections and inductions done before 39 weeks gestation. To access it, visit www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/medicalresources_39weeks.html.