Mississippi ranks first in the nation for its high number of pre-term births. MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports that mothers in rural areas face even more challenges.
Mississippi has more babies born before 37 weeks of gestation than any other state in the nation.
13.6 percent of Mississippi’s births are preterm compared to almost ten percent nationwide.
A preterm birth means a baby is more likely to have later complications including physical development and behavioral problems.
There is not one sole reason why births are preterm, but March of Dimes president Stacey D. Stewart says certain areas are more at risk.
“But what we do see at the risk of prematurity is often worse in communities that lack access to good healthcare that may not have access to health coverage, often in rural areas, in poor areas," she said.
In the Mississippi Delta and other rural areas, some expectant mothers do not have resources for a healthy pregnancy, according to Nickie Parker who works with Cary Christian Center to connect Delta mothers with health resources.
“Some areas, especially in the Delta, don’t offer prenatal care because they don’t have the facilities," she said. "They don’t have OB doctors. So, some of the moms, or a lot of the moms, have to drive a long distance to get to their doctor’s appointment and even to deliver their babies.”
There is no sole cause for preterm births, but the rate of preterm births for women of color is 50 percent higher nationwide.