On November 10, 2015, Florida March of Dimes partners met to hold an inaugural Prematurity Summit at the University of South Florida Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in Tampa. Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine and Senior Vice-President for USF Health, co-chaired the event with Dr. Mary Peeples-Sheps, former Associate Dean of the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions.
The summit explored the extent, risk factors and consequences of preterm birth (a live birth before 37 completed weeks of gestation) in Florida and began to develop a long-term strategic plan with a statewide vision and partnership to identify and utilize evidence-based strategies to reduce the rates of preterm birth in Florida.
Dr. William Sappenfield, Co-Director of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative, Director of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies and Chair of the Department of Community and Family Health in the USF College of Public Health, served on the summit steering committee and presented an overview of the preterm birth data.
Preterm birth presents a significant burden to individuals and society. Worldwide, preterm birth is the leading cause of death children under 5 years old and the leading cause of neonatal death in the United States. There is often developmental delay and disability for survivors. In the U.S. it is estimated that the annual cost of preterm birth is $26 billion.
Florida has received a grade of C on the March of Dimes 2015 Prematurity Report Card, with a state preterm birth rate of 9.9%. While an improvement from 11.2% in 2005, it is still higher than the March of Dimes goal of 8.1%. Florida has a higher rate of prematurity than the five most populous states (Florida, Illinois, New York, California, and Texas). The preterm birth rate varies substantially in Florida by county. In 2012 to 2014, the county rates varied from 5.7% in Glade County to 15.4% in Jefferson County. Preterm birth rates have decreased from 2005 to 2014 in 46 of Florida’s 67 counties, a little over 2/3rd of the counties.
Risk factors that have contributed most to the increased rates are hypertension, diabetes, and multiple births. Factors most contributing to the decrease in rates are a reduction in smoking and increasing interpregnancy intervals. The Black/White disparity in Florida is increasing over time. The preterm birth rate among Black mothers in Florida only decreased 10.7% from 2005 to 2014 compared to the rate among White mothers which decreased 15.2%.
The Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative put together a comprehensive report for the summit, titled Where are the State and Counties with Preterm Birth? This report can be downloaded from the FPQC website resources page.
With this background and other information presented at the meeting, summit participants worked collaboratively to identify ways to achieve the future March of Dimes goals for reduction of prematurity to 5.5% by 2030. A round table allowed for thoughtful discussions with unique perspectives based on myriad expertise, and participants fully committed to work collaboratively long-term to execute agreed upon next steps. The challenge is for Florida’s preterm birth rate over the next 10 years to decrease faster than the U.S. rate so that fewer babies and families have to struggle with the challenges of preterm birth and to reduce these unnecessary health care and educational costs.
World Prematurity Day is celebrated on November 17 and March of Dimes will hold a national conference in Alexandria, Virginia on November 17 and 18, 2015. For more information on the 2015 Premature Birth Report Cards, visit http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/prematurity-reportcard.aspx