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Doing Better, but Progress Slow to Reduce Preterm Births in Iowa

PHOTO: Iowa has earned a grade of "B" in this year's report card on premature births from the March of Dimes. Photo credit: Cesar Rincon/Flickr.
PHOTO: Iowa has earned a grade of "B" in this year's report card on premature births from the March of Dimes. Photo credit: Cesar Rincon/Flickr.
November 19, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - Progress is being made in reducing the number of preterm births in Iowa, as the state earned a grade of "B" in this year's report card from the March of Dimes. The report shows the national preterm birth rate is now at 11.4 percent. In Iowa, it's a little lower at 11.1 percent, although Michelle Gogerty, state director of programs and advocacy with the state chapter of the March of Dimes says,

"We have a long way to go. Our goal is for every baby to get a healthy start in life," says Gogerty. "We won't stop until we eliminate this problem and certainly, we're striving for an "A" on the report card."

Gogerty says the goal is to reduce the preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent or lower by 2020.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive often face the risk of serious and sometimes lifelong health issues. Gogerty notes they often also spend the first weeks or months of their lives hospitalized in intensive care.

"We have some babies that are March-of-Dimes families that have had medical bills over a million dollars," says Gogerty. "So, it's huge in comparison to a normal, healthy birth."

Often, the specific cause of premature birth isn't clear, but factors that may increase the risk include smoking, some infections and chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA