U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined his colleague Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) to introduce a bipartisan resolution today recognizing November as Prematurity Awareness Month. Just today, March of Dimes released Ohio's "Premature Birth Report Card," noting that Ohio's premature birth rate went up to 10.4 percent this year, putting Ohio in the bottom fifth of states for premature birth, with the preterm birth rate for African American women 46 percent higher than the rate among all other Ohio moms. Cleveland's premature birth rate is the worst among the 100 cities with the highest number of births.
"Today's report is an alarming reminder that we've got to do better when it comes to caring for pregnant women and newborns in our state," said Brown. "It's unacceptable that babies born in Ohio -- and especially our African American babies -- face such an uphill climb, and we need to come together to raise awareness and prevent premature birth and infant mortality. All children deserve a fair shot to lead full, healthy lives."
"Healthy babies are vital to a healthy society, and we must do all we can to support mothers in getting the necessary resources and care to help ensure long-term health for themselves and their infants," said Isakson, who is a member of the Senate committee that oversees health issues. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that preterm-related causes are the leading contributors to infant death in the U.S., and this resolution will help allow greater attention and awareness of this issue."
"Each year, one in ten U.S. babies is born too soon, denying them the healthiest possible start in life. In some African-American communities the burden is even greater, with as many as one in six babies born preterm. We simply must do better," stated March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart. "The March of Dimes is grateful to Senators Sherrod Brown and Johnny Isakson for bringing attention to this critical issue and the steps we can all take to ensure every baby can be born healthy and grow up to have the chance to change the world."
Brown has worked to combat Ohio's high rate of infant mortality, including efforts to care for babies who've been exposed to opioids.
In 2014, Brown's landmark legislation to battle against the rise in infant mortality was signed into law by President Obama. The Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act will build on existing activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve upon the quality and consistency of data collected during death scene investigations and autopsies to better inform prevention and intervention efforts related to stillbirths, SUIDs, and Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Childhood (SUDC). This collaboration with the states to enhance current methods of data collection across existing surveillance systems will enable doctors and researchers to better track and prevent these tragic losses.
Representative Boyle (D-PA) is introducing a companion Resolution in the House of Representatives.