US preterm birth rate dropped in 2020 for 1st time in 6 years

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The U.S. preterm birth rate declined slightly for the first time in six years, dropping from 10.2 percent in 2019 to 10.1 percent in 2020, according to a March of Dimes Report Card 2021 executive summary.  

Despite the decline, the nation has kept its "C-" grade, according to the March of Dimes. 

Five other key report takeaways:

1. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., reported a decline in preterm birth rates, while 13 states saw an increase and four remained flat. 

2. Preterm birth rates rose for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women, who are 60 percent more likely to give birth preterm than white women. 

3. The latest infant mortality data show a slight decline from 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 in 2019. Disparities persist, with Black and American Indian/Alaskan native babies twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday.  

4. Severe maternal morbidity rates have doubled over the last 20 years, according to CDC data. Each year, about 60,000 U.S. women experience morbidity tied to pregnancy. 

5. Pregnancy-related death has more than doubled over the last 30 years, with more than 700 U.S. women dying per year.

6. The 2021 Report Card highlights policy actions, legislation and programs that should be adopted to change the course of this crisis, including the passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, extending Medicaid postpartum coverage, funding maternal mortality review committees and perinatal quality collaboratives, and expanding access to doula and midwifery support.  

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