South Carolina Has One of the Worst Preterm Birth Rates in the Country


The Palmetto state barely received a “D” from the March of Dimes for the high rate of babies born prematurely. South Carolina, which received an “F” in 2010, was only 0.1% away from receiving an “F” in 2011. Of all births in South Carolina in 2011, 14.5% were premature, making the state the fifth worse in the country.

The March of Dimes, in their report on South Carolina, writes that the state is “moving in the wrong direction” on two fronts: the rate of uninsured women and late-preterm births. The number of uninsured women moved from 22% in 2010 to 24% in 2011. The report calls for expanded coverage for women of childbearing age because “health care before and during pregnancy can help identify and manage conditions that contribute to premature birth..

The rate of late-preterm births, births at 34-36 weeks, has increased slightly in South Carolina. Full-term births are 39 weeks. In 2010, the rate was 9.7%; in 2011, it is 10%. The March of Dimes links late-preterm births with early labor induction and C-sections. The organization calls on hospitals and health care professionals to increase consistency in how early induction and C-sections are treated before 39 weeks. South Carolina has tried to improve its late-preterm rates with an agreement to end early voluntary C-sections; half of SC hospitals have signed the agreement.

Preterm births, or births before 37 weeks, are the leading cause of infant death in the United States. Preterm babies face significant and potentially long-term risks including intellectual and physical disabilities. The United States has one of the worst rates of infant death in the industrialized world. To combat this trend, the federal government developed the Healthy People 2020 goals. The goals include decreasing the national rate of premature births to 11.4%. The March of Dimes stated goal is 9.6%. Only one state, Vermont, with a preterm birth rate of 9.3%, received an “A” from the March of Dimes.


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