Harris County receives ‘F’ for premature birth rates, report shows

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HARRIS COUNTY – Texas received a near failing grade on a newly released report card on new mother and infant health.

The Lone Star State remains among one of the bottom states for pregnant women to give birth, according to an annual report card compiled by the March of Dimes. Texas ranked 40 out of all 50 states on the 2021 report card.

“While in the state of Texas, we have an overall grade of a D here in Houston. In Harris County, we have an overall grade of an F,” said Alicia Lee, Director of Maternal Child Health Collective Impact with the organization.

The pre-term birth rate in Texas slightly improved from 11% in 2020 to 10.8% in 2021, according to the data. Harris County jumped 11% last year to 11.9% this year. Lee said the racial disparities also did not improve.

“If you are a Black woman, a Black baby is 1.5 times more likely to be born pre-term than any other babies here in Houston and Harris County,” Lee said.

Janelle Amosu is among the statistics.

“We actually have one child that’s still alive. We had twins and one of them passed,” said Amosu.

Amosu gave birth to her daughter back in 2019, 24 weeks early.

“Micro premie,” Amousu said. “So, she was born at one pound, four ounces, that was her birth weight. She got down to one pound two ounces.”

Amosu said it was a traumatic experience as a first-time mom. She credits the March of Dimes for helping her acclimate.

“You’re nervous right that your child won’t survive. You’re nervous about what you can do for your child. You have things on your mind -- whether I did something wrong or why my body is not carrying full term,” she said.

The March of Dimes said there’s no one reason women of color are experiencing pre-term births at a disproportionate rate, but said access to prenatal care, health concerns, and socio-economic factors all play a role. Lee said it’s going to take the collaboration of the entire medical field to improve the pre-term birth rate grade.

To view the full March of Dimes report, click here: Premature Birth Report Card (marchofdimes.org)