March of Dimes 2016 Report Card Shows Preterm Birth Increasing Nationally while Decreasing in Puerto Rico


On November 1st, the March of Dimes kicked off Prematurity Awareness Month by releasing their eighth annual Premature Birth Report Card  for the US and Puerto Rico. The report brought promising news for Puerto Rico, awarding the region a grade improvement for the first time in the report card’s history. Puerto Rico’s preterm birth rate was announced to have dropped from 11.8 percent to 11.4 percent. The news is very encouraging to PROTECT after years of consistent community engagement efforts to reduce preterm births, although much work remains to be done.

PROTECT has a long standing partnership with the March of Dimes; since 2010, PROTECT has contributed to many facets of their efforts to decrease the preterm birth rate in Puerto Rico. Dr. José Cordero of PROTECT and CRECE has chaired the Puerto Rico Prematurity Taskforce for the March of Dimes, has served on the Board of Trustees for the national March of Dimes organization, and has served on the board of the Puerto Rico March of Dimes chapter.  The PROTECT team has joined in marching in the annual March for Babies fundraising event that attracts walkers from all municipalities in Puerto Rico. More recently with the advent of Zika, the team has worked together with  March of Dimes to host Zika information sessions in San Juan and Manatí, Puerto Rico, targeting hundreds physicians and other health care professionals.

While Puerto Rico received good news from this year’s Premature Birth Report Card, the U.S. as a whole did not. For the first time in eight years, the national premature birth rate has worsened, increasing from 9.57 percent of pregnancies in 2014 to 9.62 percent of pregnancies in 2015. These numbers are a wake-up call to those interested in seeing a reduction in preterm birth rates. Commenting on the announcement, Senior Vice President of March of Dimes, Dr. Paul Jarris, said the following: “Not every baby gets a fair chance to be born healthy. We need more research, education and breakthroughs to fight this crisis for moms and babies so we can give them tomorrow.”

View the full report card, including details about each region here.