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US sees a 12% surge in premature births, CDC data says

The study highlights racial and age disparities, particularly in the increased numbers of preterm births for the Black and Hispanic communities.
US sees a 12% surge in premature births, CDC data says
Posted at 7:15 PM, Feb 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-02 21:00:03-05

The rate of babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States increased by 12% from 2014 to 2022.

During the same period, early-term births, born at 37 to 38 weeks, went up by 20%, while full-term and late or post-term births dropped by 6% and 28% respectively, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

“Gestational age is a strong predictor of short- and long-term morbidity and early mortality. Births delivered preterm are at the greatest risk of adverse outcomes, but risk is also elevated for early-term compared with full-term births,” the study reads. “This report demonstrates a shift from 2014 through 2022 across gestational age categories, with the largest changes occurring among early-term births—particularly those delivered at 37 weeks—and among late- and post-term births.”

The study highlights racial and age disparities, particularly in the increased numbers of preterm births for the Black and Hispanic communities.

The preterm birth rate among Black individuals increased annually from 11.12% in 2014 to 12.51% in 2021, followed by a decline to 12.34% in 2022. Meanwhile, the preterm birth rate for White people increased 11% from 2014 to 2022, rising from 6.90% to 7.64%, and the rate for Hispanics increased 13%, from 7.72% to 8.72% for the same time period.

“It is important to note, however, that the percentage of births delivered at less than full term was higher for Black mothers compared with White and Hispanic mothers throughout the study period. For example, in 2022, this rate was 45.05% for Black mothers compared with 34.99% for White mothers and 38.67% for Hispanic mothers,” the study notes.

People over the age of 40 faced a higher likelihood (12.52%) of experiencing preterm birth in comparison to those between the ages of 20 and 29 (8.24%).

The CDC notes that many times it’s not known why preterm births happen, but several factors may increase the likelihood of an early delivery, such as age, carrying more than one baby, infections, stress, and the use of tobacco or drugs. The CDC acknowledges that economic and racial disparities also play a role in hindering appropriate care for pregnant individuals, potentially resulting in early births.

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