Preterm birth (PTB) is a serious problem, with >450 000 neonates born prematurely in the United States every year. Beginning in 1980, the United States experienced a nearly 3-decade rise in the PTB rate, peaking in 2006 at 12.8%. PTB has declined for 7 consecutive years to 11.4% in 2013, but it still accounts for 1 in 9 neonates born every year. In addition to elevated neonatal and infant mortality among those born preterm, many who survive will have lifelong morbidities and disabilities. Because of the burden of morbidity, disability, and mortality for PTB, as well as its impact more broadly on society, including excess annual costs estimated to be at least $26.2 billion by a committee for the Institute of Medicine, the March of Dimes initiated the Prematurity Campaign in 2003. In 2008 the March of Dimes established a goal of reducing the US PTB rate to 9.6% by 2020. However, the United States ranks extremely poorly for PTB rates among Very High Human Development Index (VHHDI) countries, subjecting untold numbers of neonates to unnecessary morbidity and mortality. Therefore, the March of Dimes proposes an aspirational goal of 5.5% for the 2030 US PTB rate, which would put the United States in the top 4 (10%) of 39 VHHDI countries. This 5.5% PTB rate is being achieved in VHHDI countries and by women from diverse settings receiving optimal care. This goal can be reached and will ensure a better start in life for many more neonates in the next generation.
- Accepted October 1, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics