DefinitionPreterm birth is the live birth of an infant before 37 weeks of gestation.
The preterm birth rate is the number of live births that occurred before 37 weeks of gestation, divided by the total number of live births over the same time period.
NumeratorNumber of live births that occurred before 37 weeks of gestation in the resident population for a specific time period.
DenominatorTotal number of live births in the resident population for a specific time period.
Data Interpretation IssuesGestational age is based upon obstetrical estimate (OE) defined as the best estimate of an infant's gestational age in completed weeks based on the clinician's final estimate of gestation.^1^ Starting in 2014, the National Center for Health Statistics moved to using the obstetric estimate of gestation at delivery (OE). All data are presented using the OE, unless noted otherwise.[[br]]
1. National Center for Health Statistics. Guide to completing the facility worksheets for the certificate of live birth and report of fetal death (2003 revision). 2016.[https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/GuidetoCompleteFacilityWks.pdf]. Accessed on July 16, 2019.}}
Why Is This Important?Nationally, preterm birth is a leading cause of death in the first month of life. Babies born preterm also have increased risks of long-term morbidities and often require intensive care and lengthy hospital stays after birth.^2^[[br]]
2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Premature Birth. 2017.[https://www.cdc.gov/features/prematurebirth/index.html]. Accessed on July 17, 2019.}}
Healthy People Objective: Total preterm birthsU.S. Target: 9.4 percent
Other ObjectivesMarch of Dimes goal for 2020: 8.1%
How Are We Doing?In 2018, the rate of preterm births was 9.2%. Since 2007, the overall percentage of preterm births has remained roughly stable, ranging between 7.6% (in 2012) and 9.2% (in 2018). White mothers continue to have the lowest overall preterm birth rate (7.5% in 2018).
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?The Alaska preterm birth rate has been slightly below the U.S. rate since 2007.^3^[[br]]
3. Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK, Drake P. Births: Final data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 67 no 8. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
[https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf]. Accessed on July 16, 2019.
What Is Being Done?The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Women's, Children's, and Family Health (WCFH) serves as the administrative partner to the Alaska Perinatal Quality Collaborative (AKPQC). Established in January 2019, the AKPQC advances data-driven initiatives that improve maternal and newborn care in Alaska. With statewide membership and a steering committee comprised of health care professional organizations, hospital clinicians and leadership, and public health professionals, the AKPQC is well-positioned to promote standardized maternal care across Alaska health care facilities with a focus on reducing unnecessary risky procedures and treatments.^4^
Many states have active PQCs, and they have used them to contribute to improvements in perinatal outcomes and collectively address issues related to maternal and newborn health. PQC members identify health care processes that need to be improved and use the best available methods to make changes as quickly as possible.^5^ [[br]]
4. Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association. Alaska Perinatal Quality Collaborative. 2018.[https://www.ashnha.com/alaska-perinatal-quality-collaborative/]. Accessed on July 17, 2019.
5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Perinatal Quality Collaboratives. 2018.[https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pqc.htm]. Accessed on July 17, 2019.}}
Health Program InformationAlaska participated in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes. Through CoIIN, Alaska used evidence-based practices to focus on factors that may influence the rate of infants born preterm; such as smoking cessation (before, during and/or after pregnancy), safe sleep practices and preconception/interconception health. The fourth focus area was safe sleep, important for the health of infants who are born preterm.
For more information on CoIIN: [https://www.nichq.org/project/collaborative-improvement-and-innovation-network-reduce-infant-mortality-infant-mortality] Accessed July 17, 2019.