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City of Kansas City, Mo.

CONTACT: City Communications Office, 816-513-1349


Premature birth rates dropping in Kansas City, Mo.

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department has announced a drop in premature birthrates between 2005 and 2008. The rate of preterm or premature births dropped from 13.7 percent in 2005 to 12 percent in 2008.

“Though the changing rate of preterm births may seem small, this decrease is extremely good news for the community,” said Dr. Gerald Hoff, manager of the Office of Epidemiology and Community Health Monitoring. “Prematurity is the leading cause of infant death in Kansas City, Mo. When we cut the rate of preterm births, we also decrease the rate of infant deaths.”

Babies born premature are often at higher risk for complications at birth, long term neuro-developmental problems and more health problems throughout their lives. Between 2004 and 2008, 43 percent of infant deaths were attributed to premature births.

The disparity or difference between black and white preterm birth rates is also decreasing. The preterm birth rate for black women declined from 17.8 percent to 15.4 percent, while the preterm birth rate for white women decreased from 11.5 percent to 10.1 percent.

“While there is still a disparity between black and white premature birth rates, we are encouraged that the disparity is lessening and hope the overall trend continues,” said Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Health Department.

Over the same time period, the premature birth rates in Missouri decreased from 13.7 percent to 12.7 percent.

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics recently announced that the rates of premature births have declined significantly in 35 states, including Missouri and Kansas, between 2006 and 2008. Only in Hawaii did these rates significantly increase.

For more information on birth rates and other community health statistics, visit the Health Department Web site, Community Health Assessment reports are available online from 2004 to present.

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, public information officer for the Health Department, 816-840-2548 (pager).

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