The March of Dimes recently released its 2015 Premature Birth Report Card, giving Arizona a “B” grade with a preterm birth rate of 9 percent. The grades are assigned by comparing a state’s 2014 preterm birth rate to the March of Dimes goal of 8.1 percent by 2020. A preterm birth occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy.
There are some things women can do to lower their risk of having a premature baby including:
▪ quit smoking
▪ avoid alcohol and drugs
▪ see your health care provider for a checkup before pregnancy
▪ maintain a healthy weight
▪ work with your health care provider to control diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes
▪ get prenatal care early
The state report cards are part of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, which aims to reduce preterm birth rates across the United States. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared November Prematurity Awareness Month to highlight the importance of helping expectant moms with a successful delivery.
In a blog post about the report card, Arizona Department of Health Services Director, Cara M. Christ, points out that according to Arizona Vital Statistics, one out of every 11 Arizona babies was born prematurely in 2014. ADHS has several programs to encourage healthy behaviors leading up to and during pregnancy.
- Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait – initiative to reduce premature births in Arizona.
- Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN)– a national effort to improve infant mortality. Arizona supports two CoIIN initiatives: preconception health and safe sleep to reduce infant mortality.
- Strong Families Arizona – a multi-agency system of home visiting programs for pregnant women and families with young children.
- WIC – provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to health and social services.
- ASHLine – supports pregnant women in their efforts to stop smoking.
- Federally qualified health care centers – Arizona has more than 150 federally qualified health care centers that can assist pregnant women with comprehensive primary care including dental, mental health and other services.