West Virginia earns failing grade on preterm birth rate, improving only slightly from last year

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – March of Dimes, the nation’s leader in the fight for the health of all moms and babies, issued its 2019 March of Dimes Report Card that reveals West Virginia’s current state of maternal and infant health.

West Virginia earned an “F” for its preterm birth rate, one key indicator of maternal and infant health. Beyond preterm birth, the report card includes a new focus on maternal health and highlights solutions and policy actions that can make a difference in West Virginia.

This year’s report card provides a more comprehensive view of the health of moms and babies—as their health is deeply intertwined—across the country, for major cities, each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. overall.

“Report Card” of West Virginia premature birth rates (Courtesy: March of Dimes)

The preterm birth rate decreased slightly in West Virginia to 11.8 percent. This compares to a rate of 12.0 percent from the previous year. Overall preterm birth rates in the U.S. increased for the fourth year in a row, earning it a “C” grade, with West Virginia ranking among the bottom five states in the country.

The U.S. is among the most dangerous developed nations in which to give birth. Besides the increasing rates of preterm birth, each year, 22,000 babies die in the U.S. – that is two babies per hour.

Kentucky is not far behind West Virginia, showing no improvement from last year, and earning a D- score.

“Report Card” of Kentucky premature birth rates (Courtesy: March of Dimes)

The rates of maternal death and severe pregnancy complications also are unacceptably high. Approximately every 12 hours a woman dies due to complications resulting from pregnancy (more than 60 percent of these deaths are preventable), and thousands of others face life-threatening health challenges.

“Report Card” of Ohio premature birth rates (Courtesy: March of Dimes)

The image below shows that most counties in West Virginia worsened in terms of preterm birth rates. The only county that showed improvement was Monongalia County.

(Courtesy: March of Dimes) Showing of West Virginia Counties that worsened

In West Virginia, March of Dimes offers a number of resources and programs to support moms and babies:

  • Ensuring that women have access to public health insurance programs.
  • Expanding Medicaid to cover individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to improve maternal and infant health. West Virginia’s Medicaid coverage currently covers up to 150 percent.
  • Collaborating with other thought leaders on the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership and Maternal Mortality Review Committee. West Virginia implemented the first National Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) in March of 2018 to understand and address the causes of maternal death, like obstetric hemorrhage.

WOWK 13 News is a proud sponsor of the March of Dimes. You can find numerous resources on their website.

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