AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas is failing to protect premature babies and prevent maternal deaths during birth. That’s according to a scorecard from the March of Dimes.
The group gave the United States a score of ‘C-‘ and Texas a failing score of ‘D’ based on the rate of premature birth of 11%.
The Report Card grades all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C. and the United States overall on preterm birth rates, which continue to get worse for the fifth straight year.
For the first time, the report also examines data on infant mortality, finding two babies die every hour with the highest rate of infant mortality seen for Black women.
The report found women of color are up to 50% more likely to give birth preterm, and their children can face a 130% higher infant death rate.
Stacey D. Stewart, president and CEO of March of Dimes, calls it a maternal and infant health crisis fueled by a health equity gap that puts women and babies of color at the greatest risk.
“There are many studies that show the impact of the implicit bias is actually also a factor in how women receive treatment and care, especially women of color. The March is asking for more and more action to be taken,” Stewart said.
With policy recommendations such as the #blanketchange initiative, March of Dimes is advocating for expanded healthcare coverage in Texas.
“We know that there are many, many women in Texas who are uninsured, especially low income women, especially women of color. All of these things really contribute to increased risk of core outcomes leading not only to babies being born to sick and too soon as we see the premature birth rate,” said Stewart.
March of Dimes says the U.S. is among one of the worst developed nations to have a baby, and it’s even more dire for women of color. Approximately every 12 hours, a woman dies due to complications resulting from pregnancy, and more than 21,000 babies die every year.
In a KXAN Investigation called Mothers Erased, our team looked into the reasons why women die from pregnancy or delivery complications every year, and why in Texas, the exact number of women dying isn’t clear.