Preterm birth, when babies are born before 37 weeks gestation, is a leading cause of infant death in the U.S. The report found that outcomes across the country improved only slightly in 2022, with just over one in 10 babies being born preterm, earning the U.S. a D+ grade, the same as the previous year.
The report highlighted significant disparities in preterm births and infant mortality rates among racial and ethnic groups. Black and Native women were 54% more likely to have preterm deliveries than white women, and babies born to Black and Indigenous mothers had death rates 2.3 times higher than those born to white and Hispanic mothers. The infant mortality rate also increased overall, and maternal deaths doubled from 2018 to 2021, with greater increases among Black and Native women.
The report called for various policy actions to improve health outcomes, including increased federal funding for perinatal efforts and extending Medicaid maternity coverage to one year after childbirth. The March of Dimes emphasized the urgent need to prioritize maternal and infant health in the United States.
These findings highlight ongoing challenges in maternal and infant care in the country, and efforts to improve access to healthcare and reduce disparities are crucial to addressing these issues.