Images audio

Mississippi Leads Nation In Premature Births

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 01 Nov 2013 04:16pm | comments

A new report is showing Mississippi has a rate of premature babies that is much higher than the rest of the nation. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the rate for some women is nearly double the national average.

17-percent of all the babies born in Mississippi are born prematurely compared to the national rate of 11-percent.

The report, released by the March of Dimes, gave Mississippi an F-grade.

Authors blame a lack of access to health care and insurance, high rates of smoking, and low public knowledge about pregnancy for leading the nation in premature births.

Dina Ray, the state director of the March of Dimes, says premature births costs the state millions of dollars in the short and long term.

"So when you think of all the other problems our state has with diabetes, obesity, heart disease. Many of those things could be lowered and improved if you had healthier babies being born," Ray said.

Premature babies are also more likely to die in their first year of life.

Ray says it is becoming increasingly common for women to schedule a medically unnecessary c-section before they reach their full term pregnancy.

"It's become a trend in the last few years, not just in Mississippi but across the nation, to schedule a c-section just for convenience when there is no medical predetermining reason to have a c-section," Ray said.

Rates for black mothers are double the national average, with one in five African-American babies in Mississippi being born prematurely.

Dr. Edward McCabe the chief medical officer with the March of Dimes says it is not entirely clear why rates for black women in the state are so much higher because it is not happening in other, equally diverse states.

"California's rate among African-Americans is 13.5% compared to 20.9% for Mississippi," McCabe said.

The rate of premature birth is declining, down from 19-percent in 2006, but the goal of the group is to get every state below 10-percent by 2020.




MPB will not tolerate obscenities, threats/personal attacks, hate speech, material that is ethnically or racially offensive, abusive comments, comments off topic and spam, to name a few. You can see a complete list of the MPB guidelines by viewing our terms of service. If you spot a comment you think violates these guidelines, report it to the moderators by clicking "x" next to the comment, then "report”. MPB reserves the right to adjust these guidelines. If you have a suggestion, please contact us.