Arizona premature birth rate drops, still above national average

Nov 21, 2014, 5:45 AM | Updated: 5:45 am

PHOENIX — The rate of kids being born prematurely in Arizona is in decline, but is still higher than the national average.

Currently 11.6 percent of Arizona kids are born prematurely. Arizona March of Dimes Director Michael Simoni said, while that number is not bad compared to where the state was a few years ago, there is still more work to be done.

“This is a significant decrease from our preterm birthrate high of 13.2 percent in 2006 (but) we have an overall goal of 9.6 percent by the year 2020,” he said.

Simoni said critical development takes place in the final weeks of pregnancy and children born full-term not only ensures healthier development, but also have a financial impact on Arizona.

“One in nine babies is born premature in state of Arizona, and the one child born premature costs more than the other eight combined,” he said.

A premature baby is defined as being born before 37 weeks. A full term is 40.

Simoni said there are ways to help lower the chances of having a prematurely-born child.

“Education is a big part of what we do … to educate on the importance of smoking cessation, also birth planning, healthy nutrition, the importance of prenatal vitamins and the importance of proper medical care,” he said.

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Arizona premature birth rate drops, still above national average