Oklahoma earns March of Dimes Apgar Award

Posted on: 2/22/17

 Accepting the March of Dimes Apgar Award are, right to left, Dr. Terry Cline, state health commissioner; Joyce Marshall, maternal child health service director, Oklahoma State Department of Health; Belinda Rogers, maternal child health director, March of Dimes; LaWanna Halstead, vice president, quality and clinical initiatives, OHA; Barbara O’Brien, program director, Office of Perinatal Quality Improvement, OU Health Sciences Center; Shelly Patterson, director, Office of Health Promotion, Oklahoma Health Care Authority; Jill Nobles-Botkin, administrative program manager, maternal and child health service, OSDH; and Paul Patrick, director of maternal child health assessment, OSDH. 
Oklahoma lowered its preterm birth by at least 8 percent since 2010, giving more babies a healthy start in life and earning it the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award. The state’s preterm birth rate dropped to 10.3 percent in 2015, down from 11.2 percent in 2010.

Preterm birth is the number one killer of babies. Babies who survive an early birth often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities. Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the U.S. more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine.

The Virginia Apgar Award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates at least 8 percent between 2010 and 2015. The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served as vice president for medical affairs of the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes says progress in preterm birth rates came through bold leadership and the implementation of programs and policies by state and local health departments, hospitals and health care providers, as well as a more accurate method of measuring pregnancy length recently adopted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Successful efforts by the March of Dimes and Preparing for a Lifetime initiatives to eliminate early elective (non-medically indicated) deliveries through Oklahoma’s Every Week Counts collaborative was able to achieve a 96 percent decrease in early elective deliveries. Additionally, Oklahoma has created tools to make progesterone, a medication that can decrease the rate of preterm birth in some high-risk women, easier to prescribe and access for these high-risk women. Other interventions include reducing tobacco use among pregnant women and encouraging women to not get pregnant again until at least 18 months after giving birth (birth spacing). These initiatives are currently in place to decrease Oklahoma’s overall infant mortality and preterm birth rates, ultimately improving the health of moms and babies in our state.

March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.

The Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility initiative works with multiple partners to promote healthy outcomes for mothers and babies by addressing priority areas, including preterm birth. To learn about ways to help ensure the health and safety of Oklahoma’s smallest citizens and to access relevant resources, click here or call (405) 271-4480.

OHA Partners with Qualivis 

Qualivis was developed as a collaborative effort among multiple state hospital associations to meet the temporary staffing needs of member hospitals and health systems.

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