Arlington County, Virginia – March of Dimes unveiled a plan aiming to reduce U.S. premature birth rate down to 5.5 percent by 2030, according to a press release on their website.

They state that the U.S. premature birth rate has declined over the past eight years, although this hasn’t been the same for all the people. Several communities, and specific racial and ethnic groups, are still suffering the consequences of double-digit rates of premature birth, as stated by the organization.

March of Dimes aims to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Credit:

According to statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. preterm birth rate was 9.6 percent in 2014. It is among the worst of high-resource countries. All over the globe, more than 15 million babies are born prematurely, and nearly one million of them die of complications. Those who manage to survive, suffer from serious health issues, including breathing problems, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual complications.

The recently unveiled plan focus more resources and attention on these “high population and high burden” areas that are highly vulnerable, according to the former U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD. The announcement, made by Dr. Benjamin, a member of the March of Dimes Board of Trustees, marked the 5th annual World Prematurity Day.

Dr. Benjamin presented the March of Dimes “Prematurity Campaign Roadmap” at the March of Dimes Prematurity Prevention Conference, that gathered public health officials, doctors, nurses and other parties involved to discuss the latest improvements on the matter. The plan outlines specific guidelines to health care providers and officials to prevent preterm birth.

“As a family doctor, I’ve seen the terrible impact of premature birth,” said Dr. Benjamin, who operates a rural health clinic in Alabama. “It can cause life-long disabilities, and it is the number one killer of babies,” says the press release.

Dr. Benjamin believes that this detailed plan, aiming to help people and health officials to understand and prevent premature birth, is “critical.” Also, he added that if they succeed, an estimated of 1.3 million babies could be spared of having serious health consequences. This could mean potential savings of $70 billion in health and society costs, according to him.

According to the press release, some of the organizations supporting the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign are the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), among others.

The primary phase of the plan will focus on six states and U.S. territories with the highest rates of preterm birth -including Puerto Rico, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, showing rates above 11.5 percent. The states of Florida and Texas will also be included, each one having a rate of 10 percent.

The Phase II of the plan will bring the attention to an additional set of ten states, that have more than 100,000 births each year, such as California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, according to the press release.

According to their website, The March of Dimes Org. leads the World Prematurity Network (WPN), a global union of consumer and parent groups that aim to raise awareness on the preterm-birth subject in their countries. In 2014, almost 100 countries participated in World Prematurity Day, an initiative including outdoor events, petitions and other forms of support.

Source: March of Dimes Organization