Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death. A new report from the March of Dimes gives Indiana a grade of D for its number of pre-term births.
Indiana’s low grade can be attributed to two factors. First, the number of women who smoke in Indiana. That number has stayed consistent at one in every five women of child bearing age. And second, the number of women who lack health insurance. March of Dimes spokesperson Tim Ardnt says that number is increasing.
“So those two factors the significant number of women in Indiana who smoke. Smoking is a pre-determiner of low birth weight so chances are if you smoke you are going to have a low birth weight baby and low birth rate babies are many times pre-term,” Ardnt said. “And also if you don’t have health insurance maybe you don’t get the proper prenatal care you need.”
There is however some good news in the report. Indiana did see a 0.4 percent drop in its pre-term rate. It now stands at 12.4 percent. Ardnt says that puts Indiana right above the national average of 12.3 percent.
“We started out as an F two years ago so we are making some progress and you know nationally we have seen the pre-term birth rate dip a little bit so we’re hoping this is a tipping point. If we can get a hold of this preterm birth rate, bring it down, then we’ll save a lot of baby’s lives and have a lot of children grow up without any difficulties,” said Ardnt.
Nineteen other states joined Indiana in receiving a D score. The March of Dimes gave 13 states including Washington D.C. a failing grade. C was the highest grade awarded, which 17 states received.