Indiana News

Indiana Trims Premature Birth Rate

1 in 9 babies born early, versus 1 in 8 three years ago


( file photo: St. Vincent Health Center)

Indiana is making slow but steady progress in reducing its rate of premature births.


Indiana has trimmed its premature-birth rate from 12% in 2009 to 11% last year. The March of Dimes set that single-point improvement as a three-year goal for all states -- Indiana is one of just four to achieve it.

March of Dimes spokesman Tim Arndt says Indiana has reduced the number of uninsured women and the number of women who smoke. Both factors are linked to prematurity.

And the organization has enlisted hospitals in an effort to reduce the number of elective premature births -- women who induce labor or undergo a C-section a week or two before reaching full term. Arndt says many Indiana hospitals now flatly prohibit early deliveries unless they're medically necessary.

Arndt says reducing premature births will cut into Indiana's infant mortality rate. He says babies need a full 39 weeks in the womb for their lungs, hearts and brains to fully develop.

The March of Dimes' goal is to bring prematurity rates down another point to 10-percent in all 50 states in eight years.

Indiana's premature-birth rate is the 14th-best in the nation. Six states are already below the organization's 10% goal, led by Vermont at 9%.

Mississippi has the nation's worst prematurity rate at 17% -- one out of every six births.


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