Florida's Premature Birth Rate Rises; Health Advocates Say That's Troubling

Nov 1, 2013

Florida’s premature birth rate is on the increase, and health advocates are hoping to bring awareness to the issue to help lower the leading cause of newborn death.

Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions Project Director Carol Brady says in some cases, the increase of preterm births can be attributed to inducing births in case of a medical emergency. But, she says in recent years the decision when to birth a baby has increasingly been about convenience.

“That’s really women who ‘My mom’s coming into town next week. I think I’ll have this baby. Or the doctor who is going out of town and they’ll say ‘maybe, we’ll just induce on Friday,” said Brady.

The March of Dimes, which is running campaigns to educate about the issue, recently gave the state a “D” after it saw a nearly one-percent jump in the percentage of premature births. It began declining in 2009, and even hit a low of 13 percent in 2011. But, Brady says it's sudden rise to 13.7 in 2012 is troubling.

Brady says women who smoke, and minority mothers—particularly African Americans—are helping to drive the state’s rates.

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