Premature Births at All-Time High in U.S. – NBC Chicago

Premature Births at All-Time High in U.S. – NBC Chicago

The number of babies born too early has hit a 15-year high, putting an increasingly large number of infants at risk for physical and intellectual disabilities, the March of Dimes reported this week.

The nonprofit’s latest report finds that more than 1 in 100 babies, or 10.5%, born in the United States in 2021 were delivered at least three weeks before what’s considered full term: 40 weeks of gestation. This marks a 4% increase from 2020.

“This is the highest preterm birth rate that we’ve ever recorded,” said Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, deputy chief medical and health officer for the March of Dimes. March of Dimes began grading states for infant and maternal health in 2007.

People of color or those who live in impoverished areas are most at risk for premature birth.

“Black mothers and American Indian mothers continued to have increases” in preterm births last year, Henderson said. “That gap in disabilities continued to widen in this most recent report.” Women of color, the report found, were 60% more likely than other women to give birth prematurely.

Babies born ahead of 37 weeks gestation are at greater risk of myriad chronic health problems, such as asthma, blindness, deafness and intellectual disabilities.

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