For the fifth year in a row, the preterm birth rate in the United States has dropped. Which is great news. But Kentucky again had a significantly high smoking rate for expectant mothers — at 32.2 percent, putting us behind only West Virginia (at 36 percent) of pregnant women who gave birth preterm and smoked.
Being born before full term puts babies at undue risk. Still, nearly half a million babies in the United States are born prematurely, many unnecessarily, according to the March of Dimes‘ 2012 Premature Birth Report Card. Serena Gordon of HealthDay reports that “those risks include breathing difficulties, heart defects and bleeding in the brain. Some conditions are only temporary while others can persist.” A premature birth is anything that occurs before 37 weeks gestation. Maternal smoking is a major factor respiratory difficulties for the child and in an inability for the mother to go full term.
It is also been found that women without health insurance also have a higher incidence of preterm birth. Texas had the worst rates of uninsured women with 34.2 percent without insurance. Florida and New Mexico had rates of uninsured women of about 30 percent. Kentucky had rates of uninsured women of 21.7 percent.
To see the full report and to see how Kentucky fared compared to other states in a number of other categories, go here.