Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

March of Dimes Report: Valley's Premature Birth Rate Still High

Nov 1, 2013

California has reduced its premature birth rate. The rate has dropped to 9.6 percent, earning the state an A on the March of Dimes annual report card for the first time.

"But unfortunately in the Central Valley, we’re still at a grade of C, although we’re trending downward on pre-term birth rates, as the state is," Gail Newel, director of the Fresno County Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, said at a press conference this morning.

Newel said the reasons for the disparity between the Valley and the rest of the state are complex. She says the county is taking steps to reduce the preterm birth rate here.

“One is through direct patient care, caring for the moms while they’re pregnant and after they deliver," Newel said. "Another is policy and system change, working with the hospital and the community at large to develop policies and practices that improve health care rates.”

Preterm births are considered the biggest threat to newborn health.