The new 2022 March of Dimes Report Card gives Connecticut just average marks on how well we care for new moms and babies. Preterm births happen before 37 weeks of gestation; 40 weeks is typical. While that’s not good, it’s better than the US grade of D+ at 10.5% preterm births. Massachusetts and New Jersey both earned better grades at B-. Rhode Island also got a C+ and New York earned a C grade. At an A-, Vermont got the best grade in the nation.
With a pre-term birth rate of 9.6% of live births in 2021, Connecticut is behind nine other states.
Unfortunately Black and Hispanic Connecticut moms are 53% and 9.2% more likely to have a preterm birth than white women, respectively. And that gap hasn’t changed over time.
Babies born too early can have serious long-term health problems including cerebral palsy, impaired learning, behavioral and psychological problems, hearing and vision problems. Risks for preterm birth include less than six months between pregnancies, tobacco or substance use, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
While Connecticut’s preterm birth rate has been stable since 2011, our infant mortality rate is declining. It was down to 4.2 per 1,000 live births in 2020 from a high of 5.7 in 2015. In comparison, the US average was 5.4 in 2020.
The rate of pregnant women in Connecticut getting inadequate prenatal care (8.8%) is too high, but better than the US average (14.5%). Unfortunately, low-risk Cesarean births are more likely in Connecticut than the US average (28.9% and 26.3%, respectively).
In good news, Connecticut has or is in the process of implementing policies that support moms and babies including expanding Medicaid, extended Medicaid eligibility beyond 60 days postpartum, decent reimbursement rates for midwives, have a Maternal Mortality Review Committee and a Perinatal Quality Collaborative. We are in the process of implementing coverage for doula care in Medicaid.