The March of Dimes has released its Premature Birth Report Card, and with it comes good news for the US: 11.7 percent of births in 2011 were premature, which is lowest rate in a decade.
Late preterm birth rates (34 to 36 weeks), which contribute to preemie births, was the factor that most improved the US's premature birth rate. This supports March of Dimes' "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" campaign, which recommends against elective C-sections or inductions before 39 weeks. However, the number of preterm babies born to uninsured women increased.
Although all racial and ethnic groups experienced lower preterm birth rates overall, there were notable regional differences. On the heels of the report that Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the US, it also has the highest rate of preterm births: 16.9 percent, which is a grade of F, according to the March of Dimes. Four states—Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Oregon—earned A grades.
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