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Louisiana receives bad grade on March of Dimes report card

Pregnant
Posted at 7:09 PM, Nov 18, 2021

March of Dimes released their annual report card — and Louisiana didn't do too well.

The state received an 'F' grade, the worst grade a state can get from the non-profit. Those with March of Dimes, however, told KATC it's actually an improvement from previous years.

"From a national perspective, the United States is currently at a 'C' right, that's not great either," Renee Antoine, State Director of Maternal and Infant Health with March of Dimes. "So there's some states that have As and Bs, and some states that are unfortunately on the lower end of that scale — and Louisiana is one of those states that are on the lower end of that scale."

The state sits at a 12.9 percent preterm birth rate as per the report card, a decrease from 13.1 percent in 2019. The non-profit, partnering with LDH, reports several parishes with the highest preterm birth rates, and Lafayette is one of them at 11.7 percent.

"Prematurity actually follows you through life with several developmental delays cognitive delays et cetera," Antoine said. "So really, having a reduction in preterm birth for 2021 is actually shining a light on the great work we are doing in Louisiana."

Those with the Louisiana Department of Health agree, and they said many of these cases are found in people of color, with Black women in Louisiana having a preterm birth rate 55 percent higher than the rate among all other women.

Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell, Medical Director of Louisiana Prenatal Quality Collaborative, told KATC this is eye-opening and all the more reason to recognize inherent bias and social determinants of health, like race and socioeconomic status.

"I am very hopeful and inspired because there are conversations that we are having now that we weren't having two, three, four, five years ago," Gillispie-Bell said. "So I do believe that we are moving in a direction to understand how the social determinants of health play into these outcomes and being able to address them."

Gillispie-Bell noted that these factors are not something that can solely be addressed on the medical front, but also through policymakers and those in the community.

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