Preemie Matters – December 2010

In this issue of Preemie Matters: National Vital Statistics Report Finds Decline in Preterm Birth Rate  •  Study: Reading in the NICU Helps Parents & Preemies Bond  •  Statewide Work Group Supports Virginia's Healthy Babies  •  CPSC Promotes Safe Babywearing  •  Webinar: Opportunities in Health Reform to Prevent Infant Death

National Vital Statistics Report Finds Decline in Preterm Birth Rate

After three decades of rising preterm birth rates, new data from the National Center for Health Statistics suggests that the trend may be in decline. The 2008 final preterm birth rate dropped to 12.3 percent, from the 2006 final rate of 12.8 percent, with declines noted for all racial and ethnic groups. Other significant findings in the 2008 National Vital Statistics Report include these: Twenty-eight percent of infants were born "early term" (37-38 weeks) and only about 54 percent of infants were delivered full-term (39 to 41 weeks). This report marks the first to include data on "early term" infants, who are categorized as neither preterm nor full-term but who experience higher mortality rates and more health problems than full-term babies.

Study: Reading in the NICU Helps Parents & Preemies Bond

An innovative study led by a neonatal nurse at Montreal Children's Hospital finds that reading to NICU infants helps parents to feel close to their babies, easing the stress of disrupted parent-infant bonding. Nearly 70% of the 120 families who participated by reading to their NICU infants reported feeling more in control of their situation and closer to their newborns. The lead researcher of the study, published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, says the findings suggest that healthcare professionals should make reading an essential tool for supporting parents in NICUs and follow-up clinics.

Statewide Work Group Supports Virginia's Healthy Babies

The Virginia State Health Commissioner's Infant Mortality Work Group, established in 2008, represents a success story about approaches that can work nationwide to raise awareness and reduce infant mortality. Members represent the private medical community, managed health care, several state agencies and community groups such as the March of Dimes. The group's collaborative nature allows key issues to be promptly identified and effectively addressed. With State Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley, they recently celebrated Virginia's decline in premature births and a 22% decrease in teen pregnancy rates - an issue associated with low-birthweight and infant mortality.

CPSC Promotes Safe Babywearing

For many parents, "babywearing" promotes a positive bond and is an everyday part of caring for infants. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is working to share important information that will help families use baby slings and wraps safely. After reviewing 14 infant suffocation deaths related to sling-style carriers over the past 20 years, CPSC recommends that parents of newborns under four months, preemies, low-birthweight babies, and babies with colds and respiratory problems take extra care in using these types of carriers. CPSC's prevention recommendations for parents and caregivers include guidelines for proper use and visuals of safe positioning.

Webinar: Opportunities in Health Reform to Prevent Infant Death

A webinar on "Opportunities in Health Reform to Prevent Infant Death" is now available online from the National Sudden Unexpected Infant-Child and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center. The September 2010 webinar, co-sponsored by the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Professionals (ASIP) and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), covers 1) opportunities for maternal and child health under health reform legislation, 2) promoting preconception and interconception health through improved insurance coverage and benefits, 3) optimizing home visiting program investments and 4) leveraging investments from the Prevention and Public Health Fund.


Information is reported as provided and does not necessarily represent the view of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. A complete copy of HMHB's disclaimer is available on our website.