Every year the March of Dimes releases grades based on the final National Center for Health Statistics data.  Arizona received a “B” grade for the 2017 Premature Birth Report Card. While the preterm birth rate worsened in 43 states in 2016, the rate remained the same in Arizona.

A premature birth is defined as the birth of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy, but babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 weeks.  The report grades Arizona counties with the greatest number of births on their 2015 preterm birth rates.  It also provides preterm birth rates by race and ethnicity.  In Arizona, the preterm birth rate among black women is 37% higher than the rate among all women.

The Arizona Department of Health Services administers prevention efforts to increase healthy pregnancies to improve birth outcomes.

  • ASHLine – supports pregnant women in their efforts to stop smoking
  • Child Fatality Report – this data report provides recommendations on the prevention of prematurity deaths.  With the advancements in medical technology and healthcare, Arizona is seeing lower numbers of prematurity deaths.
  • Health Start – increasing access to prenatal care services to pregnant women by linking enrolled women to medical providers, providing inter-conception health education and providing preconception/inter-conception health education to women receiving pregnancy tests.
  • MIECHV (Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Program) – delivers evidence based home visiting program services to pregnant women and their families.  Each home visiting programs aim to increase health pregnancies and improve birth outcomes.  The home visiting programs provide resources/referrals to education opportunities through classes – childbirth education, breastfeeding, newborn care, car seat/home safety.
  • PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System) – analyze the characteristics of women who experienced preterm delivery ranging from maternal demographics, health insurance coverage, prenatal care visits to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.  These data will help Arizona identify specific risk factors and behaviors associated with preterm delivery and to tailor prevention efforts to specific populations.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Helpline – offers information about pregnancy test sites, low-cost providers, breastfeeding support, vitamins with folic acids and TEXT4BABY resources.
  • Strong Families AZ – a network of free home visiting programs that help families raise healthy children ready to succeed in school and in life.
  • Tobacco Free Program –STAND youth coalition effort to raise awareness about dangers of tobacco use and advocate for policy change in local communities across Arizona and changes has occurred in communities related to smoke-free parks, no smoking in vehicle with minor, Tobacco 21 products policy ,  community education and county health provides early identification for smoking risk factors and complications.
  • WIC (Women, Infants and Children) – provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to health and social services.

Within the past year, the programs have been able to provide resources and reach a number of families that are in need of services. ADHS goal is to provide services to families across Arizona including high-risk families that have been identified in community needs assessments. Programs are implemented in these identified high risk communities from data findings and continue to tailor prevention efforts to meet the needs of our diverse populations.