Overlooked Contributors to Rural Preterm Births in 200 Words

A baby's feet in mom's hands

This World Prematurity Day, it’s important to acknowledge that many parts of rural America are facing troubling increases in preterm births. I often hear people linking this to the critical shortage of care for pregnant women – nearly half of U.S. counties have no obstetrician-gynecologists and labor and delivery units are closing in high-need rural areas. Access to care is absolutely part of the problem, but it’s not the sole source. Other root causes – social and environmental determinants – are often overlooked in rural settings:  

To address some of these causes, PolicyLab is exploring how home visiting programs work outside the delivery room to address broader social and environmental determinants ensuring healthy birth outcomes in Pennsylvania’s rural communities.


This post is part of our “____ in 200 Words” series. In this series, we tackle issues related to children’s health policy and explain and connect you to resources to help understand them further, all in 200 words. If you have any suggestions for a topic in this series, please send a note to PolicyLab’s Communications Manager Lauren Walens.