U.S. Preterm Birth Rate Is Almost The Same As Somalia’s – Here’s Why

Lack of health insurance is just one factor. America’s preterm birth rate – the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age – in the past few years has not been far behind Somalia’s.

In fact, according to a 2012 World Health Organization report about the global toll of preterm birth, Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, the U.S. ranks 131st in the world in terms of its preterm birth rate of 12.0 per 100 live births, almost the same as of the countries like Somalia, Thailand and Turkey. It further added that nearly half a million babies are born too soon in the U.S. each year.

Though the trends are changing, as the March of Dimes notes in its latest Premature Birth Report Card, and the preterm birth rate has fallen to its lowest level in 17 years, there is still a lot to be achieved in terms of tackling the basic issues which could reverse the progress.

Also read: Let's Review The Obamacare Health Insurance Exchanges!

While Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post notes it’s primarily lack of health insurance that causes the problem – “the rate of preterm birth among uninsured women stands at 19.8 percent” – it is but only one explanation.

Increasing rates of fertility treatments, like (IVF), refusal of seeking professional healthcare during pregnancy due to personal or cultural reasons and genetic factors also come into play.

Ingraham also states another reason: “More women have been electing to have births by C-section earlier in their pregnancy terms,” but that trend, according to various health charities, is apparently reversing.

"The U.S. still has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any high-resource country and we must change that," said March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse in a statement.

“The sustained improvement in reducing premature births shows that when infant health becomes a priority, babies benefit. Bold leadership and policies implemented by state and local health departments, hospitals and health care providers will encourage continued health improvements for newborns,” he added.

Related: U.S. Reports Three Million Medicaid Enrollments Under Obamacare

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