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Alabama is in top 3 states for highest preterm birth rate

The March of Dimes’ 2015 Premature Birth Report Card ranks Alabama in the top 3 states in the nation with the highest preterm birth rate. Premature birth is birth three or more weeks before a baby is due. It is a leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities, and babies born prematurely may also suffer from breathing problems, feeding difficulties, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, vision and hearing impairment.

Despite its obvious health complications, the Institute of Medicine states that the annual costs associated with premature birth are about $26 billion in the United States.

According to the March of Dimes Foundation, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies founded by President Roosevelt in 1983, complications from premature birth are the world’s #1 killer of young children. With this being said, Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville each have higher rates of preterm birth than Alabama as a whole.

What causes preterm birth?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are many social, personal, and economic characteristics; medial and pregnancy conditions; and behavioral factors associated with preterm birth:

  • Social, Personal & Economic Characteristics
    • Low or high maternal age.
    • Low maternal income or socioeconomic status.
  • Medical and Pregnancy Conditions
    • Infection.
    • Prior preterm birth.
    • Carrying more than 1 baby.
    • High blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Behavioral
    • Tobacco & alcohol use
    • Substance abuse.
    • Late prenatal care.
    • Stress.

Obviously, many of these factors exist among the residents of Alabama, and an obvious solution is to target and attack some of these problems among women. Awareness is important to prevent preterm birth and solve this worldwide issue

By: Ivy Painter

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