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November 18, 2008     Cape Gazette
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November 18, 2008

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10 TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18- THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2008 HEALTH & FITNESS cape Qazett Delaware earns "F" on premature-birth report card The United States is failing hundreds of thousands of its youngest citizens on the day they are born, according to the March of Dimes. Delaware faces a crib. " level of premature births thatJis driving up healthcare costs ad special education budgets. In the first of what will be annual premature-birth report card, the nation received a "D" and not a single state earned an ',," when the March of Dimes compared actual preterm birth rates to the national Healthy Peo- ple 2010 objective. The grade of "F" indicates how far Delaware, with a preterm birth rate of 14 percent, is from the Healthy Peo- ple 2010 objective of 7.6 percent of all live births. The latest avail- able data - 2005 - show the na- tional preterm birth rate is 12.7 percent. The only state to earn a "B" was Vermont. Eight states earned a "C," and 23 states earned a "D." Eighteen states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, got failing grades of "E" "It is unacceptable that our na- tion is failing so many preterm babies," said Jennifer L. Howse, Ph.D, president of the March of Dimes. "We are determined to fred and implement solutions to prevent preterm birth, based on research, best clinical practices and improved education for morns." In addition to providing state rankings, the March of Dimes premature-birth report card ana- lyzes contributing factors and prevention opportunities, in- cluding rates of late preterm birth, smoking and uninsured women of child-bearing age. In Delaware, the rate of late preterm births is 9.8 percent. The rate of women smoking is 22.8 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 15 percent. "The report card illustrates the importance of ensuring every pregnant woman in Delaware has access to health coverage, and it further stresses the value of smoking prevention and ces- sation," said Dr. Garrett Coimor- gen, March of Dimes prematuri- ty campaign chairman. "These issues will continue to be the March of Dimes' advocacy prior- ities." What ,l  tk? The purpose of the report card is to raise public awareness of the growing crisis of preterm birth, so elected and appointed offi- cials will commit more resources to address this problem, and pol- icymakers will support develop- ment of strategies that benefit mothers and babies. In Delaware the need is to continue and in- crease funding for programs like the Delaware Healthy Mother & Infant Consortium and other community agenciesthat fight the increasing problem of pre- maturity and infant mortality. The March of Dimes predicts that in 2009, report card grades will reflect state actions taken that have the potential to reduce preterm birth rates in future years. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in the first month of life in the United States. The preterm birth rate has increased more than 20 percent since 1990 and costs the nation more than $26 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine report issued in July 2006. Babies who survive a prema- ture birth face the risk of serious life-long health problems includ- ing learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss and other chronic conditions such as asthma. Even infants born justa few weeks too soon have a greater risk of breathing prob- lems, feeding difficulties, tem- perature instability, jaundice and delayed brain development: Party Transportation Needs? 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Offer available for a Limited time and may be modified or withdrawn at any time without prior notice and may vary by market. @2008 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. ALL rights reserved. PNC Bank Member FDIC.