New report card shows premature births are increasing, especially among black women

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The report card is in and Indiana gets a "C" with a 9.6 percent preterm birth rate. The new data was released by the March of Dimes this week.

The most startling statistic is among black women in Indiana who have a 46 percent higher preterm birth rate than all other women.

"What we're seeing here in Indiana is that African Americans women don't receive early entry and prenatal care as often as any other race so as a whole that demographic doesn't get into prenatal care early," said Jeena Siela of March of Dimes Indiana.

Marion County has the highest preterm birthrate at 11 percent, followed by Hamilton county with 10.4 percent. While research is underway to see why this is the case some initial signs point to smoking while pregnant, drug use and genetics.

"There's the whole concept of epigenetics as well and how stress could potentially be turning on and off certain genes while the baby is in utero," Siela said.

While the state fights these numbers through educational programs and even legislation there are things women can do to help them have a full term pregnancy. Like planning their pregnancy and getting their body in shape to carry a child.

"They are taking folic acid before they get pregnant so they can have that build up of folic acid which is directly attributed to spina bifida," said Siela.

Another preventative concern linked to preterm birth, having children too close together.

"18 months between the time of your last baby's birth and the time that you get pregnant with your next baby your body is not fully recovered," said Siela.

November is Premature Awareness Month and Nov. 17 is World Premature Day. Visit the March of Dimes Indiana Facebook page for more on upcoming events to raise awareness.