April 11, 2017
Concord, NH – On April 11, the March of Dimes honored the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) with the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award. DPHS Bureau Chief of Population Health and Community Services’ Patricia Tilley accepted the Roosevelt Award, which recognizes states that have reduced rates of preterm birth below a national goal of 8.1% or less. New Hampshire achieved a prematurity rate of 7.9% in 2015, the last year with definitive data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Three other states, Washington, Vermont, and Oregon, are also receiving the award this year.
The period of gestation is one of the most important predictors of an infant’s subsequent health. Premature babies are at an increased risk for newborn health complications such as breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy, intellectual delays, and even death. The average medical cost at birth for a healthy baby is $4,389, and for a premature baby it is $54,194.
“We are committed to working with the March of Dimes, healthcare providers, communities, and New Hampshire families to help prevent what is a serious health problem,” said Lisa Morris, DPHS Director. “New Hampshire’s preterm birth rate is promising compared with the national average of 9.63%, but even babies born just a few weeks early are at risk for health problems.”
“New Hampshire has been on the cusp of deploying proven interventions designed to reduce prematurity,” said March of Dimes New Hampshire Maternal and Child Health Director Sally Hennessy. “This includes access to early and regular prenatal care in every corner of the State, paying close attention to making sure that all planned caesarean births before 37 weeks are in the best interest of the woman or baby’s health, smoking cessation efforts such as the NH Quitline, and home visiting programs that promotes healthy habits and positive outcomes for pregnant women including the utilization of family and social supports.”
The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization dedicated to prenatal and infant health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For more information about prematurity and the March of Dimes, visit www.marchofdimes.org.
To learn more about the NH DHHS Division of Public Health Services’ Maternal and Child Health Section, visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/mch/index.htm.