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First Year Cleveland

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Biomedical Research Building
11000 Cedar Avenue - 4th Floor Cleveland, OH 44106

Phone 216-368-4837
Home Solutions Addressing Extreme Prematurity Overview

Addressing Extreme Prematurity

Prematurity is the largest contributing factor to infant mortality in Greater Cleveland. One of First Year Cleveland's priorities is to reduce the number of preterm births from the 2015 baseline rate of 14.9 percent to less than 10 percent by the end of 2020. (*Please note: goal is based on City of Cleveland and March of Dimes data; however, we are reporting Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland data on an ongoing basis as it becomes available.)


For the past two decades, the leading contributing factor to infant deaths in our region has been prematurity. Any baby born before 37 weeks of gestation is considered premature.

Unfortunately, some of these premature babies are born much too early, with little chance of survival. These babies are considered extremely premature, with gestation periods of less than 23 weeks. Most of these babies are African American. (Learn more about how racial disparities affect infant mortality rates.)

While Greater Cleveland has similar demographics to major cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, Baltimore and Boston, our rate of non-viable pregnancies (pregnancies where babies have little to no chance of survival outside of the womb) are higher.

At First Year Cleveland, one of our priorities is to decrease extreme prematurity in our community and ensure that more babies live to see their first birthday. Results to date are promising: Since 2015 Cuyahoga County's preterm birth rate has decreased from 14.9 percent to 11.6 percent in 2019, a 22 percent decline. 

Preterm Births Illustration

By the end of 2020, our goal is to reduce the preterm birth rate to less than 10 percent. Five of the 12 FYC Action Teams are focusing on this issue and will achieve this goal by:

  • Conducting Learning Circle programs with birth hospitals
  • Improving community members’ access to prenatal care
  • Growing public awareness of birth spacing guidelines
  • Increasing enrollment in the evidence-based CenteringPregnancy® model
  • Addressing social determinants impacting expectant parents by serving pregnant mothers in results-driven interventions like home visiting

The members of these teams will provide families and parents with resources and guidance to help them have longer, healthier pregnancies and babies that celebrate their first birthday.

Reducing extreme prematurity in Cuyahoga County is possible — and First Year Cleveland is working to make this a reality.

Ways to decrease extreme prematurity

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