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New Mexico Responds To Premature Birth Report Card

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

In response to the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card issued today, Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil said the State will continue to support programs that encourage healthy births and children. New Mexico received a D for the report card, which measured states on one factor – number of pre-term births in 2005.

New Mexico's pre-term birth rate was 11 percent of live births in 2005 and 11.2 percent in 2006, according to the Department of Health's Vital Records and Health Statistics Bureau. The state's late pre-term birth rate (34 to 36 weeks gestation) was 7.8 percent in 2006.

New Mexico is already making progress in accomplishing the March of Dimes call for action, which asks state policy makers to expand access to health insurance for women of child-bearing age. During Governor Bill Richardson's administration, he has recognized the need to expand access to health insurance for all New Mexicans and support parents in raising healthy children.

Governor Richardson has successfully worked with the New Mexico Legislature to implement a new insurance program for pregnant mothers. New Mexico's Premium Assistance for Maternity program provides health benefits, included pre- and post-natal care, delivery and other pregnancy-related health services for pregnant women who earn too much to qualify for assistance through Medicaid.

The Department of Health is also working on the March of Dimes' second call for action: to reduce smoking rates among women of child bearing age. The Department has several anti-tobacco initiatives and activities that target women, including pregnant women.

To promote full-term births, the Department of Health:

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• Counsels women in the Women, Infants and Children program on optimal weight gain and nutrition, smoking cessation and early referral to prenatal care

• Conducts home visits and provides information and referral for women through the Families FIRST Perinatal Case Management Program

• Contracts with providers to provide prenatal care statewide for about 1,250 women each year who don't have any source of care

• Provides prenatal care for approximately 700 women each year who would not be able to access care otherwise

• Regulates and promotes the practice of certified nurse midwives, who work actively on issues related to premature births. About 30 percent of New Mexico births are attended by midwives.

Under Governor Richardson's leadership, the Department of Health has also invested in programs that support parents in helping their children lead healthy lives. The Department expanded its newborn screening program and home visiting program to support new parents of newborns.

"The concern over premature births is how that affects the health of the newborn," Dr. Vigil said. "We are supporting our families to raise healthy children by screening for more diseases, offering home visiting support and resources and ensuring children get therapy services if they are at risk of having a developmental disability or delay."