KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In Global Study, U.S. Ranks Very Low In Preventing Premature Births

A World Health Organization/United Nations/March of Dimes report ranks countries on their premature birth rates.

The New York Times: U.S. Lags In Global Measure Of Premature Births
Fifteen million babies are born prematurely each year, and the United States fared badly in the first country-by-country global comparison of premature births, which was released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and other agencies (McNeil Jr., 5/2).

Kaiser Health News: Report: U.S. Has High Rate Of Babies Born Early
About 12 percent of U.S. babies are born at 37 weeks or less, according to the report, which found a worldwide range of as few as 4.1 percent of babies in Belarus to as many as 18 percent in Malawi. Full term is considered 39 weeks (Appleby, 5/2).

Reuters: As Preterm Births Soar Globally, U.S. Ranks 130 Of 184
The world's developed countries have seen their average rate of premature births double to 6 percent since 1995, despite efforts to reduce the phenomenon, according to a report released on Wednesday. Worldwide, 15 million of the 135 million babies born in 2010 were premature and 1.1 million died, according to the "Born Too Soon" report, which was compiled as part of the United Nations' "Every Woman Every Child" initiative (Begley, 5/2).

Boston Globe: US Babies Fare Poorly On Preterm Births
Despite all the dollars we spend on health care, American babies are getting short shrift when it comes to good health outcomes. The premature birth rate in the United States is abysmal; our country ranks 131st — with a preterm birth rate of 12 per 100 live births — which puts us near Somalia, Thailand, and Turkey, according to a report released Wednesday by the March of Dimes and the World Health Organization (Kotz, 5/3).

The Associated Press: 15 Million Of World's Babies Are Born Prematurely
Experts can't fully explain why the U.S. preemie rate is so much worse than similar high-income countries. But part of the reason must be poorer access to prenatal care for uninsured U.S. women, especially minority mothers-to-be, said March of Dimes epidemiologist Christopher Howson. African-American women are nearly twice as likely as white women to receive late or no prenatal care (Neergaard, 5/2).

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