Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    Preterm Birth Rates and Infant Death Rates Drop

    Federal Report Shows No Change in Rates of Childhood Asthma, Obesity
    WebMD Health News

    July 13, 2012 -- The U.S. preterm birth rate dropped for the fourth year in a row, according to a new federal report.

    In 2010, 12% of infants were born before 37 weeks, down from 12.8% in 2006.

    Babies born too early are at higher risk for many long-term health and developmental problems. This decline was primarily seen among infants delivered late preterm or between 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.

    The study also showed that fewer infants are dying within their first year of life. This rate decreased from 6.4 per 1,000 births in 2009 to 6.1 per 1,000 births in 2010.

    While the report, "America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012," does show some progress in key measures of health, significant challenges still exist.

    According to the data, almost 10% of children ages 0 to 17 in the U.S. had asthma in 2010, and about 20% of children aged 6 to 17 were obese. The obesity rates have remained unchanged since 2001-2002.

    "It's a mixed picture," says Alan E. Guttmacher, MD. He is the director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md. "Rates of preterm birth and infant mortality are going down and that is wonderful news, but these rates are still higher than we would like it to be," he tells WebMD. "Childhood obesity and childhood asthma continue to be major problems, and we would like to see more gains there for sure."

    Report Shows Some Positive Trends

    The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a group of 22 federal agencies. Most of the data have been previously reported elsewhere.

    According to the new report:

    • The teen birth rate continues to decline, decreasing from almost 20 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 in 2009 to 17 per 1,000 in 2010.
    • Births to single women aged 15 to 44 fell from 2009 to 2010.
    • 7.3 million children did not have health insurance at least once in 2010.
    • In 2010, 5% of children aged 0 to 17 had no usual source of health care.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares