November 17, 2010
Virginia is reducing its rate of preterm births, but the March of Dimes says the state needs to expand health care coverage and smoking-cessation programs to more women so they can receive better prenatal care.
The maternal-health advocacy group's Premature Birth Report Card released Wednesday gave Virginia a "D." According to the most recently available statistics, the state's preterm birth rate was 11.3 percent in 2008, down from 12.1 percent the previous year. The national preterm birth rate was 12.3 percent.
The March of Dimes report says 18 percent of Virginia women lack health insurance, up 0.1 percentage point from 2007. The percentage of women who smoke fell from 18.9 percent to 16.7 percent. The rate of late preterm births fell slightly from 8.6 percent to 8.1 percent.