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Ohio among worst states for racial disparities in premature births

A new national report released this week found that Ohio is among the worst states in the nation for the racial disparity in premature births (Source: “Black babies in Ohio at greater risk of premature birth,” Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 5, 2015).

According to the latest edition of the annual March of Dimes report, about 14 percent of African-American babies born Ohio are premature, while white babies fare much better: 9.6 percent are born before full term. The high rate of premature births for African-American babies is a significant contributing factor to the infant mortality rate for Ohio African-American babies, which are the highest in the country.

The March of Dimes this year focused its attention on racial disparities, calculating a disparity index for each state based on data from 2011 through 2013 and ranking states accordingly. Ohio ranked 48th.

The March of Dimes’ national goal for prematurity is 8.1 percent or less by 2020. Ohio’s overall rate is 10.3 percent.