Washoe County’s preemie birth rate worsens, state gets “D"

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WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. (KOLO) The March of Dimes has released its latest Premature Birth Report Card, and Washoe County’s rate of preemie births worsened. Overall, the state of Nevada gets a “D” grade.

“Unfortunately, these are not the grades we want, since our goal is eliminating preterm birth,” says Aimee Nussbaum, MD, the March of Dimes’ Maternal Child Health Program Coordinator for the state of Nevada.

Not only did Washoe County’s prematurity birth rate increase year-over-year; from 9.7% to 10.1%; so did Nevada’s overall rate; from 9.9% to 10.4%.

The March of Dimes reports more than 36,200 babies are born in the Silver State each year. Of them, 3,607 are born too soon.

So why is Nevada seeing an increase in preemie births? Nussbaum says there are similar trends with states receiving the lowest “D” and “F” grades.

“They tend to have higher risk factors for preterm births such as smoking. They also will have social and environmental risk factors that just tend to have an impact on women's health and their access to care.” That highlights, she says, the need for more outreach and awareness.

And it’s not just Nevada seeing an increase. The rate of preterm births rose across the country for the second year in a row, after nearly a decade of decline. Nussbaum calls prematurity a national health crisis, “Prematurity is the largest contributor to infant death in the U.S.”

There are some known behaviors which can help decrease the risk of having a preemie: don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, don’t use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs. Nussbaum also says get prenatal care as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. And no matter how well you feel throughout pregnancy, don’t skip an appointment.

More than anything, Nussbaum has a message for any mother of a preemie:

“Do not blame yourself.” She says preterm birth is a complex problem, “and many of the causes are still unknown. So even if a woman does everything right. If she goes to all of her prenatal care visits, takes her vitamins, she could still deliver early.”