The city of Riverside scored a “B” in a March of Dimes study that graded large cities throughout the country on their success or failure in lowering premature birth rates, it was announced Wednesday.
According to the White Plains, New York-based nonprofit, vital statistics from 2013-16 showed that 8.8 percent of newborns in Riverside were preemies.
The March of Dimes set a goal of 8.1 percent or less as an optimal preterm birth rate that reflects how communities are making strides in protecting the health of newborns.
The U.S. as a whole received a “C” for an overall preterm birth rate of 9.8 percent.
“The 2017 March of Dimes Report Card demonstrates that moms and babies in this country face a higher risk of preterm birth based on race and zip code,” said Stacey Stewart, president of the March of Dimes. “We see that preterm birth rates worsened in 43 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. This is an unacceptable trend that requires immediate attention.”
The nonprofit based its scoring criteria on a gestation period of 37 weeks — and anything less than that was considered a risk to the newborn.
Four states received an “A” on the report, while 13 states, including California, got a “B”; 18 states were graded “C,” 11 states “D” and four states “F.”
Among large cities, Irvine earned the highest marks with a preterm birth rate of 5.8 percent, while Cleveland was at the bottom with a preterm rate of 14.9 percent.
According to the March of Dimes, infants who survive a premature birth can potentially face a multitude of health deficiencies later on, including respiratory incapacity, vision loss, cerebral palsy and delayed intellectual development.
The nonprofit said data indicated black women are 49 percent more likely to deliver children prematurely compared to white women, and American Indian or Alaskan natives are 18 percent more likely than whites.
The National Academy of Medicine found that preemie births result in $26 billion in “avoidable medical and societal costs” each year.
The March of Dimes said more research is needed to isolate the causes of preemie births, while programs emphasizing the importance of prenatal care and educating women of childbearing age about the resources available to them during pregnancy are essential.
–City News Service
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