Premature birth rates have increased in Georgia. In 2015, the rate was at 10.8 percent and for 2016 the rate has increased to 11.2 percent which is a grade of a D. A grade of a D is defined as the preterm birth rate of 10.4 percent to 11.4 percent.
Premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks gestation. Premature babies who survive will often have developmental issues and ongoing health problems throughout life.
Georgia’s rate is higher than the national average which is 9.8 percent for 2016. In 2015, the national average was at 9.6 percent. Within this same report, Georgia has a “disparity index” rating of 27 where the national average is 23. Furthermore, Georgia is ranked number 32 out of the 50 states.
According to the report, the disparity index score to measure and track progress towards the elimination of racial/ethnic disparities in preterm birth. The score represents the average percent difference in the preterm birth rate across all groups compared to the group with the lowest rate in the state. Index scores range from 0 (achievement of equity) to 44 (highest score in 2016).
The source of the numbers come from the March of Dimes annual report on premature births in the United States know as the Premature Birth Report Card.
The counties with the highest numbers of premature births are Chatham, Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett. However, in rural areas, premature birth is higher per capita. Most of the premature birth’s are highest among black women at 13.6 percent followed by white women at 9.6 percent.
Cause of the premature births varies based on the health of the mother which could include blood pressure issues along with other metabolic conditions such as diabetes.
The March of Dimes is using their data to help states implement policies to ensure the more full-term babies are born by changing public health policies by changing state Medicaid requirements aligning to full-term births after 37 weeks.