Florida earned a “D” on the 2013 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.
The state’s preterm birth rate peaked 2005 through 2008 at 13.8 percent of all live births. It began declining in 2009, hitting a low of 13 percent in 2011. The 2012 preliminary preterm birth rate jumped to 13.7 percent, according to the March of Dimes.
The organization's staffers pledged to analyze Florida’s birth statistics to investigate why preterm birth rates increased. They will determine if program changes are needed and if specific groups or regions should be targeted for assistance.
Premature birth, birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death or health challenges.