Florida received a C on the March of Dimes 2015 Prematurity Report Card, with a state preterm birth rate of 9.9 percent.
Worldwide, preterm birth is the leading cause of death in children under 5-years-old and the leading cause of neonatal death in the U.S.
Dr. William Sappenfield, co-director of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative, director of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies and chair of the department of community and family health in the USF College of Public Health, presented an overview of preterm birth data at the inaugural Prematurity Summit at the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation on November 10.
“These babies who are born premature in some ways are born behind, and many of them stay behind, and it can really impact their whole life,” Dr. Sappenfield said.
Florida March of Dimes partners met at the Prematurity Summit to explore the extent, risk factors, and consequences of preterm birth — a live birth before 37 completed weeks of gestation — in Florida and began to develop a long-term strategic plan with a statewide vision and partnership to identify and utilize evidence-based strategies to reduce the rates of preterm birth in Florida.
The March of Dimes has set a future goal of reducing prematurity to 5.5 percent by 2030.
While an improvement from 11.2 percentage rate in 2005, Florida’s premature birth rate is still higher than the March of Dimes goal of 8.1 percent.
Florida has a higher rate of prematurity than Illinois, New York, California, and Texas, with rates varying substantially by county. From 2012 to 2014, the county rates varied from 5.7 percent in Glade County to 15.4 percent in Jefferson County.