Idaho earns ‘A’ for preterm birth rates

About eight of every 100 babies in Idaho born last year were premature, according to a new report from the March of Dimes.

That is among the nation’s best rates, the report said.

March of Dimes gave Idaho an “A” rating, based on the organization’s national goal of an 8.1 percent preterm birth rate. Idaho’s rate was exactly 8.1 percent.

Other states to receive an “A” rating include Oregon, Washington and Vermont.

“Through the diligent work of our medical partners and community leaders in Idaho, we’re seeing the results we set out to achieve,” said Denise Brennan, director of the March of Dimes Idaho Chapter, in a news release. “We’re making progress in the important work of discovering the unknown causes of preterm birth and addressing remediation for known causes.”

Minorities, smokers and the uninsured still have a greater risk of preterm births nationally and in Idaho.

Premature birth is defined as birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm births are a serious health problem — the leading cause of newborn death. Premature babies can have lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities.

Preterm births also are very expensive, with higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term births.