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World Prematurity Day

November 14, 2011
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As this year's World Prematurity Day approaches on Thursday (Nov. 17), the March of Dimes released its annual Premature Birth Report Card for the nation. California once again earned a "B" grade for a preterm (before 37 weeks gestation) birth rate of 10.3 percent - a rate that has not changed much over the past few years. The goal by 2020 is 9.6 percent.

While it is impossible to always know what causes premature births, some factors, like lack of prenatal care and smoking during pregnancy, are shown to contribute. We join the March of Dimes in urging lawmakers to make health reform a priority and expand insurance coverage for women, just as California did last month with two bills we supported that require health insurance companies to provide maternity services to all insured women.

But we all know that parents-to-be must also take action to ensure their babies are born healthy. Premature birth is the No. 1 killer of newborns, and puts babies at risk for severe health problems and lifelong disabilities, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.

The goal of the March of Dimes' Prematurity Campaign is to raise awareness and help prevent preterm births. One way you can support the campaign is to "like" the March of Dimes' World Prematurity Day on Facebook, and encourage others to do so. There, you'll find some touching stories of success and heartbreak.

Here at First 5 LA, we are committed to the goal of all babies in Los Angeles County being born at a healthy weight - which means being born at full term. Through the Black Infant Health and Healthy Births programs, we are helping to improve birth outcomes for at-risk pregnant women and their families. Click on the links to learn more about these valuable programs.



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