Missouri and Kansas do not fare well in the March of Dimes’ 2020 report card. The preterm birth rate in Kansas is 10.1 percent, earning it a grade of C+. Missouri comes in at a D, with a preterm birth rate of 10.9 percent. Additionally, the report grades the 100 largest cities based on birth in the United States on their preterm birth rates. Kansas City received a D+ grade, with a rate of 10.6 percent for preterm birth.
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Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant mortality, which has slowly declined nationally over the past few years. In the United States, two babies die every hour, and two women die from pregnancy complications every day. The report card found that in Missouri, 465 babies died before their first birthday in 2018. Preterm birth and infant mortality rates are worse for moms and babies of color. The report card shows significant racial disparities that cut across maternal and infant health. In Missouri, black women had the highest rates of infant mortality at 11.5 per 1,000 live births.
“Although there has been some incremental progress in advancing policies that will address better maternal and infant health care, this progress is not happening quick enough and is tempered by increasing racial/ethnic health-care disparities in preterm birth,” said Stacey D. Stewart, president and CEO of March of Dimes. “At a time of racial awakening in our nation, we must amplify our efforts to decrease deaths and health challenges facing our nation’s moms and babies and enact new policies that support health equity.”
Nationally, the preterm birth rate has increased for the fifth year in a row to 10.2 percent. In Missouri, 16 percent of women receive inadequate prenatal care; 13.3 percent of women ages 15-44 are uninsured; and 14.8 percent of women ages 15-44 are in poverty.
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“A priority for March of Dimes is to close the health equity gap across the country,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer for March of Dimes. “Using the concrete, detailed evidence in the 2020 report card, we can identify commonsense steps to reverse the alarming trends. A part of this work, we recognize a lack of uniform reporting and inconsistent access to real-time maternal and infant health data is impeding progress. Particularly during a pandemic, we need access to robust, uniform data sharing to inform evidence-based strategies that can be implemented across public and private sectors to address the specific needs of this crisis.”
In the Kansas City area, Clay County received a C+ with a rate of 9.5 while Jackson County Received a D and a rate of 11% for preterm births.
St. Louis County received an F with a 12% rate while the city of St. Louis had a 12.4% rate earning it an F.
Kansas fared much better for local counties in the March of Dimes report.
Johnson County Kansas received a B+ with a 8.5% rate, Douglas earned a C+ with a 9.3% rate and Leavenworth a B+ with a 8.5% rate. Wyandotte County earned a D+ with a 10.7% rate for preterm births.
Wichita earned a C- with a 10.1% rate.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice