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JUST ABOVE FAILING Florida officials continue to work on lowering the state's premature birth rate. Photo by Micha Fleuren/Dreamstime FLORIDA EARNS A 'D' FOR ITS PREMATURE BIRTH STATS By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Florida earned a D in a recently released "premature birth report card" issued by the March of Dimes, reflecting the state's high rate of premature births. from 13.3 percent to 13 percent between 2010 and 2011, down from 13.8 percent in 2006. One factor that may be slowing that decline? An increase in the percentage of uninsured women between the ages of 15 and 44. That number That rate has actually dipped in recent years, rose by almost a full percentage point, to 29.3 but not enough to get the state up to the napercent. March of Dimes cites a lack of regutional average. lar health care before and during pregnancy Sarasota's Healthy Start Coalition is bringing as a major risk factor for premature births. attention to the poor grade and promoting preHow is Florida faring when compared to other vention with its Think 39 Weeks! campaign. states? Well, we are not Mississippi, where the The push emphasizes the health benefits of a rate of premature births is 16.9 percent, but full-term 39-week pregnancy, with a long list we have a long way to go to catch Vermont, of positive factors for both the mother and where the rate is 8.8 percent. the child. One area in which March of Dimes does credThat information needs to get out. In a stateit the Sunshine State is the commitment to wide Healthy Start survey, nearly half of rereduce the premature birth rate. Florida has spondents said deliveries earlier than 37 pledged to lower its number by 8 percent by weeks were safe. 2014. For now, at least, the state is headed in March of Dimes statistics show a decline in the right direction, even if that still only gets the percentage of premature births in Florida, us just above failing. %

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