Cleveland Receives F Grade for Rate of Preterm Births
photo by Torsten Mangner
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Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, & Dayton all received F’s from the March of Dimes today in the group’s annual premature birth report card.  For the first time, the non-profit advocacy group looked at individual cities, in addition to grading the state as a whole.  Ohio scored a C, with a rate of pre-term births at 10.3 percent, compared to the national rate of 9.8%.

Lisa Holloway with the March of Dimes Ohio Chapter says looking at city data gives clues into where the problems lie, and what might be causing them. One major factor, she says, is the health of the woman before pregnancy. Women who smoke or have diabetes are at high risk for giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. 

According to Holloway, the problem isn't just physical health.  "The neighborhoods that women live in, the job opportunities they have, the education they have and so on and so forth.”

Holloway says these factors contribute to Ohio’s high racial and ethnic disparity. The report shows Asians and whites have the lowest preterm birth rates in the state at 8.4% and 9.6%, respectively, compared to African Americans and Native Americans at 14%.

While there are prenatal care options that can help women who have had preterm issues in the past, Holloway says there needs to be better access for low-income women. 

Pre-term birth is the leading cause of infant mortality, and those who survive the first year can face long-term health issues such as breathing problems, jaundice and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes report is based on 2014 data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

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