Author Topic: March of Dimes Sets Ambitious Goal of 50% Reduction in Preterm Births by 2030  (Read 1313 times)

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March of Dimes Sets Ambitious Goal of 50% Reduction in Preterm Births by 2030

The March of Dimes has launched a new campaign toward reducing the number of preterm births in the United States to 5.5% of all live births by 2030. The United States currently stands at 11.4%, which is its lowest rate in 17 years. It also achieves the federal goal set by the Healthy People 2020 initiative seven years ahead of its target date.

Even so, the United States is woefully high in the number of preterm births among developed countries, with 450,000 babies born before 37 weeks gestation in 2013.

"The United States spends more money per capita on health care than almost any other country in the world, and yet our premature birth rate and our infant mortality rate are among the highest,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

The United States ranked 37 out of 39 developed countries in a 2010 report by the CDC on infants. The percentage of preterm births here was 40% higher than in England and Wales, and 69% to 75% higher than in Finland, Ireland, and Sweden. Seven other developed countries already have preterm birth rates below 6 percent, and 15 have rates below 7 percent, according to the March of Dimes. Studying the successes of other countries will be an important step in reducing the number of premature births in the U.S.

Another tactic toward reaching the goal, says Dr. Howse, will be to focus on the known interventions and risk-reduction strategies. For example:

• Eliminating early elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy
• Optimizing birth spacing (18 to 23 months between pregnancies)
• Helping women quit smoking
• Offering progesterone treatments for all women with a prior preterm birth
• Reducing multiple births by following fertility treatment best practices
• Offering low-dose aspirin to prevent pre-eclampsia in women with high risk pregnancies.

Dr. Howse and coauthor Dr. Michael Katz wrote in an article in Pediatrics (Nov. 2014, vol. 134) that a reduction in prematurity also can be met by increasing the funding for research intended to uncover the unknown causes of preterm birth. "The time is ripe for a systematic identification of possible biological causes of preterm birth fueled by new investments, new models of research, and heightened collaboration," they wrote.

The March of Dimes funds a network of Prematurity Research Centers located at Stanford University, the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University, and Case Western Reserve University. The March of Dimes plans to invest $10 million in a new center at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as another center at Washington University in St. Louis, which will also receive $10 million from the March of Dimes.