March of Dimes gives Florida a C for the preterm birth rate, Jacksonville receives a D

March of Dimes has released their 2018 Premature Birth Report Card for each state, and Florida received a C grade for the preterm birth rate of 10.2 percent. Jacksonville/Duval County has a rate of 11.4 percent and a D grade.

According to March of Dimes, prematurity is the leading cause of death for children under five – affecting 15 million babies each year globally. The preterm birth rate in the United States is 9.9 percent, increasing for the third year in a row. The goal is for each U.S. state to have a preterm birth rate of 8.1 percent or less by 2020.

Prematurity is a leading cause of infant mortality in Jacksonville and across the state and country. If babies survive being born premature, the complications can leave a life-long, negative impact on each infant and their family.

Florida’s report card shows that African American women are 50 percent more likely to give birth prematurely than Caucasian moms. This is due to factors such as lack of access to prenatal care, public transportation, racism and more. Social determinants of health are environmental conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, worship and age that affect their quality of life. They are the root causes of health disparities.

March of Dimes funds some of the Coalition’s specific community initiatives, including the IMPLICIT program, which integrates screening for key interconceptional risks into pediatric and primary care. Stacy Stewart, president of March of Dimes, said there was not one single reason as to why babies can be born premature, so we need to work together to increase the ability for women to have access to quality health care and improve access to prenatal education.

The Coalition is working towards lowering the premature birth rate in Northeast Florida by addressing social determinants of health, providing access to health care and more so that babies can be born with a healthy start.