Indiana is making slow but steady progress in reducing its rate of premature births. Indiana has trimmed its premature-birth rate from 12 percent in 2009 to 11 percent last year.
The March of Dimes set that single-point improvement as a three-year goal for all states — Indiana is one of just four to achieve it.
March of Dimes spokesman Tim Arndt says Indiana’s done an effective job the last six years in combating factors linked to premature birth.
“We’ve seen the rate of uninsured women go down in Indiana,” Arndt said. “We’ve seen the rate of pre-term birth go down in Indiana, and we’ve also seen a decline in the percentage of women who report smoking when pregnant.”
The March of Dimes has enlisted hospitals in an effort to reduce the number of elective premature births — women who induce labor or undergo a C-section a week or two before reaching full term. Arndt says many Indiana hospitals now flatly prohibit early deliveries unless they‘re medically necessary.
The March of Dimes‘ goal is to bring prematurity rates down another point to 10-percent in eight years. Indiana‘s premature-birth rate is the 14th-best in the nation.
Six states are already below the organization‘s 10-percent goal, led by Vermont at nine-percent. Mississippi has the nation‘s worst prematurity rate at 17-percent.